Eight-Spotted Forester

Alypia octomaculata


Photo of an Eight-Spotted Forester on a flower
The eight-spotted forester is a spiffy, butterfly-like moth. It is a fast, darting flyer and dazzles the eye when it flutters around flowers.
Donna Brunet

Noctuidae (owlet moths)


Adult eight-spotted foresters are butterfly-like: They fly during the day, drink from flowers, and even have antennae that are thickened at the tips. The overall wing color is black. The forewings have two pale yellow spots; the hindwings have two white spots. The body is mostly black. The front and middle pairs of legs have patches of bright orange hairs. The flight is fast and darting. The black and white pattern creates a flickering effect like a strobe light.

Larvae are whitish lavender, with each segment having several narrow, black transverse lines and one wide orange band. There are small black tubercles on the body, and white spots in the abdominal area. The head is orange.


Wingspan: 1–1½ inches.


Photo of an eight-spotted forester moth resting on a glass window, viewed from above
Eight-Spotted Forester
Seen from above, it's easy to see why this noctuid moth is called the "eight-spotted" forester.

Eight-Spotted Forester-20180627-1919.jpg

A black butterfly-like insect with white spots on its wings and bright orange balls on its legs.
Eight-Spotted Forester in St. Louis
Habitat and conservation

Adults are most often found where wooded areas border open areas — the open areas offer the flowers the adults drink from, and the wooded areas provide the grapevines and Virginia creeper they eat as larvae and upon which they lay their eggs.


Larvae feed on grapes (both wild and cultivated) and on Virginia creeper. The adults feed like butterflies on flower nectar.

image of Eight-Spotted Forester Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri



Breeding resident.

Life cycle

Adults are most commonly seen in spring, when they emerge from their cocoons, and again in August, when the second brood appears. This species overwinters in the pupal stage, hidden in soil or in crevices in wood. Unlike most other moths, this species flies during the daytime.

Human connections

The caterpillars can be a pest on grape leaves, though their grazing on Missouri’s innumerable wild grape vines and Virginia creeper causes grief to few people.

Ecosystem connections

The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults serve a role in pollination. All stages provide food for predators.