Scarlet-bodied Wasp Moth

Cosmosoma myrodora

My Species Story

I first heard about the Scarlet-bodied Wasp Moth when we moved back to Louisiana in 2020. A shaggy vine had starting growing on the fence in our little back yard, and my mom noticed one day when she was over and noted that it was Climbing Hempvine (Mikania scandens), and that I should keep an eye out for a bright-red day-flying moth that was known for using that species.

I never saw it there, and for the next two years I'd looked and wondered when and where I might finally see one. Finally, in the late summer of 2022, as I was leaving the Amite River Wildlife Sanctuary, I spotted one nectaring on some Late Boneset (Eupatorium serotinum) and pretty much immediately fell in love. The bright red on black with metallic blue accents was just so unlike anything else I'd ever seen!

Not too long after that, I was looking through the Pokeberry Patch, I noticed a few red spots on a dying boneset plant. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be at least five male moths collecting toxic compounds from the weakened and brown stem! A couple of days later, there were more than 20 male moths collecting on another dead boneset a little further back in the patch. I couldn't believe my eyes.

For the rest of the fall, I saw these beauties almost every day in the Pokeberry Patch, and eventually even found a few caterpillars on the Florida Keys Hempvine (Mikania cordifolia) growing in the same area. The Pokeberry Patch ended up being more of a Eupatorium/Mikania patch, the perfect breeding ground for the SBWMs.

The Drought of 2023 hit the Mikania hard on the Landry Property, and the population was not nearly as abundant, but I've seen a couple here and there. Here's hoping they'll rebound along with everything else this year.

They come up in my first podcast appearance on TIGER TIME, where I talk about my love of Bugs, since they are a big part of me discovering that love.

Last updated on November 25, 2023

External Resources

University of Florida Featured Creatures

LSU AgCenter

Locations

Landry Property

Found in tremendous numbers in the Pokeberry Patch in 2022, including one day where over 20 males were found to be gathering compounds from a dying Late Boneset plant.

The severe drought in 2023 led to seeing only a couple of individual adults throughout the whole year. Their host plant, Mikania cordifolia, struggled in the heat and drought and I fear they were severely affected locally.