When I glanced out over the Bidens alba that are growing adjacent to the patio, I eyed a rather large pollinator…a very colorful pollinator. I grabbed the camera and headed out to photograph the wasp. Truth is, I automatically knew it wasn’t a wasp, but I assumed that it was a Polka-dot Wasp Moth (Syntomeida epilais) which is a wasp mimic.
In the world of wildlife, hiding and mimicry of other species is a way of preserving yourself from being eaten. The wasp mimics probably adhere to the philosophy that if it looks like a wasp and acts like a wasp, it probably stings like a wasp…so, predators will leave it alone.
As I got closer to focus in, I was taken with the fact that my friend was a different color from the wasp moths I was familiar with. It had the “dots on the wings” thing going, but the abdomen coloring was all wrong.
I snapped a few photos and headed in to find out some data on my newfound, colorfully attractive friend.
Meet the Yellow-banded Wasp Moth (Syntomeida ipomoeae). This member of the Arctiini Tribe (Tiger Moths) is diurnal so you get to see it’s pretty self flying during the day.
The larvae feed on morning-glory (Ipomoea spp.), which I could not find on my property at present, but I have had a native variety in the past, so it is in the neighborhood.
This fella is a cousin of the Polka-dot Wasp Moth, thus my initial confusion on what I was seeing.
It’s always an exciting day for me to find a new-to-me species in the garden. Amazingly, it happens so often that it just goes to show how much diversity a beautiful native plant garden can provide. You can learn something new every week.
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