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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

990250n – 19250   Darna pallivitta Moore, 1877
             Nettle Caterpillar
Distribution Data for Darna pallivitta
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Distribution: Native to South-East Asia; not found in North America north of Mexico.
Larva and
Host Plants:
larvae have been recorded on Cocos nucifera (Coconut), Ficus spp. (Ficus), and Zea mays (maize/corn)

Larvae can be up to 1 inch long and are covered in rows of stinging spines. Typically, there are four rows of spines, two dorsally and one on each side, laterally. Early instar larvae are pale yellowish-white with rust-orange in the middle. Later instars are dark grey, marbled with black and white, spines are pale grey with 4 spines in the center, dorsally, that are typically rust-orange.
Field Marks:
Females larger than males. Forewing of both sexes is divided by a white diagonal line extending from the apex to the bottom edge of the wing, almost extending to the base of the wing. Forewings are light brown to rust colored. Hindwings are uniformly light brown.
Similar Species:
  • The rust-colored forewings with the oblique white fascia is distinctive and can be used to distinguish this species from North American species. Late instar larvae can be distinguished from North American caterpillars by the presence of stinging spines and four orange spines located in the center on the dorsal side of the caterpillar
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: select View by Region on the related species page.)
  • (1) Natural History Museum: HOSTS- website
  • (2) Brambila, J., Jackson, L., and Meagher, R.L. 2010. Corn Commodity-based Pest Survey. (Darna pallivita, pp. 131-135). USDA-CPHST. website
  • (3) Molet, T. 2013. CPHST Pest Datasheet for Darna pallivitta. USDA-APHIS-PPQ-CPHST. [pdf]
  • (4) Species Page at BOLD Barcoding Project - website.
Darna pallivitta
– Christi Jaeger, MEM

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