Euchaetes egle, the Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar or Milkweed Tiger Moth, is a moth in the family Arctiidae. It is a common mid- through late-summer feeder on milkweeds and dogbane. Like most species in this family, it has chemical defenses it acquires from its host plants, in this case, cardiac glycosides (Weller et al., 1999). These are retained in adults and deter bats, and presumably other predators, from feeding on them (Hristov and Conner 2005). Only very high cardiac glycoside concentrations deterred bats, however (Hristov and Conner 2005). Adults indicate their unpalatability with clicks from their tymbal organs (Simmons and Conner 1996).
This moth frequently uses Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) and sometimes dogbane (Apocynum spp.) as larval host plants. Larvae often feed on older milkweed shoots, and seldom share shoots with Monarchs Danaus plexippus, which prefer younger ones (Wagner, 2005).
Dogbanes and Milkweeds produce a sticky latex that can impede larval feeding. Early instars avoid the veins by skeletonizing the leaves. Older larvae sever the veins that supply the latex, which reduces laxtex flow to the area they feed on (Dussourd and Denno, 1991).
Species: E. egle
Phalaena egle Drury, 1773
Euchaetes egle f. cyclica H. Edwards, 1883
all Photos by Christopher Stokes / © Christopher Stokes 2012
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