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The Long Suffering Husband saw this moth on the sidewalk and digitally captured it. The first thing I said when I saw the photo was “snow leopard.” The task of identification seemed daunting, given that there are 12,000 types of moths in North America (compared to 825 butterflies). But when I looked under “spotted moths” on BugGuide.net, there he was, the Giant Leopard moth, Hypercompe scribonia.

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This moth is extremely chic. I love the little white pantaloons on the upper legs, and the sinuous antennae.

The Giant Leopard moth has a wingspan of up to three inches, and its caterpillar is of the “woolly bear” type, hairy and black. These vegetarians subsist on leaves and enjoy backyard weeds like plantain, dandelion and violet (but also garden plants like cabbage). Like humans they are sexually dimorphic, with the male growing larger than the female. Unlike humans, their mating process takes a leisurely 24 hours. I think we could learn from them.

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A woolly bear caterpillar of the Giant Leopard moth. Click for source (entnemdept.ufl)