Estigmene acrea

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Salt marsh moth
Male Salt Marsh Moth, Megan McCarty112.jpg
Estigmene acrea1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Clade: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Erebidae
Genus: Estigmene
Species: E. acrea
Binomial name
Estigmene acrea
(Drury, 1773)
  • Phalaena acrea Drury, 1773
  • Diacrisia mombasana Rothschild, 1910
  • Bombyx caprotina Drury, 1773
  • Arctia pseuderminea Harris, 1823
  • Arctia pseuderminea Harris, 1841
  • Leucarctia californica Packard, 1864
  • Leucarctia packardii Schaupp, 1882
  • Leucarctia rickseckeri Behr, 1893
  • Estigmene acraea var. klagesi Ehrmann, 1894
  • Spilosoma mexicana Walker, [1865]
  • Leucarctia acraea[1]

Estigmene acrea (salt marsh moth or acrea moth) is a moth in the family Arctiidae. It is found in North America, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Colombia and Mexico.


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.[2]


This moth is generally seen from May to August,[2] but it is seen all year in southern Florida and southern Texas.[3]

Life cycle[edit]

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.[3]

Host plants[edit]

Host plants used by the caterpillar include cabbage, cotton, walnuts, apple, tobacco, pea, potato, clovers, and maize.[2][3]

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.[4]


  • Estigmene acrea acrea
  • Estigmene acrea arizonensis Rothschild, 1910 (Arizona)
  • Estigmene acrea mexicana (Walker, [1865}) (Mexico)
  • Estigmene acrea columbiana Rothschild, 1910 (Colombia)



  1. ^ "Catalogue of the Exhibit of Economic Entomology at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, Mo., 1904". Bulletin. United States Bureau of Entomology (47): 45. 1904. 
  2. ^ a b c Covell, C. V. (2005). Moths of Eastern North America. Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, VA. ISBN 1-884549-21-7
  3. ^ a b c Wagner, D. L. (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. ISBN 0-691-12144-3
  4. ^ 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.

External links[edit]