Yellow-Collared Scape Moth

Cisseps fulvicollis

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Photo of a Yellow-Collared Scape Moth
The yellow-collared scape moth is more often “orange-collared.” And whether you think it looks more like a firefly or a wasp, it’s still a moth!
Donna Brunet
Family

Erebidae (tiger, lichen, tussock, and underwing moths)

Description

Adult yellow-collared scape moths have black forewings. The hindwings (usually covered by the forewings) are translucent in the middle; sometimes the patch looks whitish or bluish. The body is all black, or bluish-black, except for the bright orange (sometimes yellow) “collar.”

Larvae have numerous tubercles bearing hair tufts. The body is brownish with a dark line down the back, a broken orange and yellow line to either side of it and a broader line below that. The head is orange with brownish shading.

Size

Wingspan: 1–1½ inches.

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Photo of a yellow-collared scape moth collecting nectar from asters.
Yellow-Collared Scape Moth
Yellow-collared scape moth gathering nectar from native asters.

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Photo of a yellow-collared scape moth
Yellow-Collared Scape Moth
Adult yellow-collared scape moths are frequently seen as they visit flowers during the day. They look a lot like lightning bugs.
Habitat and conservation

The adults are frequently seen as they visit flowers during the day. They are also attracted to lights at night. They can be found in virtually any Missouri habitat, but if you are looking for them, start in fields, prairies, parks, and yards with plenty of flowers.

Foods

Larvae feed on grasses, lichens, and sedges. The adults drink nectar from a variety of flowers, including many in the sunflower family, such as asters and goldenrods, as well as milkweeds.

image of Yellow Collared Scape Moth Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Status

Widespread.

Life cycle

Adults fly from late April until the freezing weather of autumn.

Human connections

There are about 3 species of scape moths in North America. But what is a “scape”? It is a kind of stalk, or shaft — like the leafless stem of a tulip that rises directly from the ground. This group of moths seems to have been named for a long, scapelike stalk at the base of each antenna. (Sometimes learning about nature teaches you about language!)

Ecosystem connections

The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults serve a role in pollination. This species might garner some protection from predators by mimicking wasps or bad-tasting beetles. It might also acquire some toxicity itself when it gathers nectar from plants with toxic chemicals.