Yellow-Striped Armyworm Moth

As far as I can tell, this individual was taking a drink out of a tiny puddle on an overturned flowerpot. Its forefeet were not even breaking the surface tension; and, when I checked by later, it had flown safely away.

The yellow-striped armyworm moth, which has the enchanting Latin name Spodoptera ornithogalli, is a noctuid moth living all over the southern United States (from California to Florida), and much of South America. The larvae, which travel together in groups (hence the name “armyworm”), are your typical voracious caterpillars, eating a variety of human crops and thus Very, Very Bad to find in your garden. They are attractively striped, with a distinctive neon yellow “racing stripe” down the side.

Adult moths are 34-41mm across with the wings extended. The front wings are patterned with brown, gold, and black swirls; the hind wings are opalescent white with a thin brown margin. Adults don’t live terribly long, about two weeks, just long enough to mate and lay another generation of eggs.

This individual is listed on iNaturalist, where smarter people than I are arguing about which subspecies it is.

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