|File:Male Salt Marsh Motp|
The head and thorax are white and the abdomen is yellow-orange with a row of black spots. The forewing is white with a variable pattern of black spots, with some individuals lacking any spots. The hindwing is yellow-orange in males and white in females. Both sexes have 3 or 4 black spots or blotches on the hindwings. The wingspan measures 4.5 to 6.8 cm.
The yellowish eggs are laid in clusters on the host plant leaves. The larva, known as the Salt Marsh Caterpillar, is highly variable in color, ranging from pale yellow to dark brownish-black. It has numerous soft setae which are longer toward the end of the body. The thoracic and abdominal segments have a few rows of orange or black warts. It pupates in a cocoon.
The moth does not seem to be affected by any type of pyrrolizidine alkaloid present in many plant families, including the borage, legume, dogbane, and orchid families, and the tribes Senecioneae and Eupatorieae of the aster family. It is sensitive to alkaloids due to its pyrrolizidine alkaloid-specific taste receptors. It can detoxify them and even convert them into sex pheromones.
- Estigmene acrea acrea
- Estigmene acrea arizonensis Rothschild, 1910 (Arizona)
- Estigmene acrea mexicana (Walker, [1865}) (Mexico)
- Estigmene acrea columbiana Rothschild, 1910 (Colombia)
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- Covell, C. V. (2005). Moths of Eastern North America. Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, VA. ISBN 1-884549-21-7
- Wagner, D. L. (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. ISBN 0-691-12144-3
- Hartmann, T., et al. (2005). Specific recognition, detoxification and metabolism of pyrrolizidine alkaloids by the polyphagous arctiid Estigmene acrea. Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 35(5), 391-411.
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