www.zinnysworld.com       Copyright 2000-2016 by Thomas Zinneman.  All rights reserved.

Polka-dot Wasp Moth Syntomeida epilais

The Polka-dot Wasp Moth, also known as the Oleander Moth, is a day-flying moth.  This large moth has a metallic blue body and wings with a bright orange-tipped tail end.  There are symmetrical white spots on its wings and two white spots on the sides of the body.  The colors and patterns of this moth mimic those of a wasp, hoping to ward off potential predators.

This wasp is a native of the Caribbean islands and was probably introduced into Florida by the Spaniards.  This moth is found throughout Florida and southern Georgia.  It is seen year-round in central and southern Florida.

The larva of this moth, known as the Oleander caterpillar, feeds on Oleander plants, a common, but poisonous plant in central and south Florida.  These caterpillars have huge appetites and can severely damage the plants.  Birds do not feed on these caterpillars due to the toxicity of its food source.

These caterpillars are orange in color and covered with clumps of black hair.  This hair is used to make a thin cocoon used to cover it in the pupae stage.

The top two photos show the moth.  The moth in the image on the right is stuck to a Tar Flower.  The middle photo on the left shows the caterpillar and the bottom left photo shows the pupae stage.  All photos were taken in Deep Creek in Charlotte County.