Florida has always had some truly unique species of Lepidoptera which (for the most part) can be encountered only there; except of coarse for wind blown strays or strong migratory fliers. Below, is one of those unique species. This is the Polka-dot wasp moth (Syntomeida epilais jucundissima).
I recently encountered these two nectaring at lantana in Central Florida the last week of September. I find them very cool with their variable polka-dot markings, white-tipped antennae, red abdomen tip, and of coarse those white (socks) on their hind leg tarsi.
I have read the species has been seen as far north as South Carolina and west to Mississippi and Texas. However, it is Florida where you will most likely encounter it. Its larvae are commonly called the oleander caterpillar. It may also feed on Devil's potato plants in wild spaces.
Just a little something to watch out for should you ever be visiting Florida and have a little "net" time !
Thank you 58 Chevy for the link to that other species. C. fidelissima is most certainly as equally impressive a species in its own right.
The specimen pictured in the link was photographed in Miami Florida so I presume that species is more of a South Florida item. A nice little series of that one would be very nice in anyone's collection.
I was hoping to collect more of the polka dot wasp moth but, those two are all that I encountered during my one week visit; although I checked numerous lantana patches in yards. I have been to Florida at other times of the year however, I never encountered it at those times so I consider myself pretty lucky that this time I did.
C. fidelissima ranges from Miami southward through the keys. It is often encountered flying along the beaches. A collector in Punta Gorda, FL (east coast, I think) regularly collects Syntomeida epilais and other wasp moth species. He also gets P. glaucus maynardi and other Florida specialties.
Post by wingedwishes on Nov 3, 2020 9:31:03 GMT -8
Those were a serious pest on my oleanders when I lived in St.Petersburg. If you want more, plant oleander. The cats look like they sting but I handled them quite often.
Good vendors from whom I've had good experiences: Insect Collectors Shop Bill Oehlke Tropical Butterflies of America- Honor and praise to the late Mr. Serrano--- Insect-Sale Chuck Ianni Dr. Defreina Ken Thorne Insect Collector Shop Girardy's Chuck Limmer
While living in South Florida in 1988 to 1992 and again from 1996 to 2000, I managed to collect and rear, Composia fidelissima, Empyreuma pugione, Cosmosoma myrodora, Pseudocharis minima, Didasys belae (My all time favorite) and Syntomeida epilais.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley has several more day fliers.