What Is This Black Moth or Butterfly With the Wide White Stripe on Each Wing?

June springs forth with dozens of types of butterflies and moths to claim the attention of the rambler. Some are easy to identify, like the Red-spotted Purples and the returning Red Admirals. Others are smaller but just as noticeable, like these fingernail-sized moths perching on a sunlit leaf in a shady part of Riverwood Conservancy, then rising up to chase away rivals or perhaps chase after partners. Their wings are basically dark but a broad white stripe on each side makes the moths very noticeable.

Photo of White Striped Black Moth on Sand on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Hooray for Names That Make Sense Like “White Striped Black” Moth

Photo of White Striped Black Moth Snail Trail on NaturalCrooksDotCom

My need to identify new creatures would be met more easily if they all had names like this little moth. It’s called a White-striped Black which suits it perfectly. Although I didn’t find it by looking that phrase up in my Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, I could have. (Well, it would have been a little tricky as it’s indexed under Black, White-striped.)

Photo of White Striped Black Perched On NaturalCrooksDotCom
You can see from the goldenrod and creeper that these are small moths.

The book confirms the id by mentioning this small moth is “often seen during daytime along wooded trails.” My experience exactly!

Why Do Shade-Loving Moths Persist In Staying in the Dimly-Lit Glades?

Photo of White Striped Black Moth Blue Eye Flash on NaturalCrooksDotCom

As a photographer, I wish to register a minor complaint with the White-striped Black moth guild: It’s very hard for me to get a good photo of one when
a)    They like to fly away if I approach within 3 metres and
b)    They like to stay in the shade where my camera balks at taking a clear photo

Ah, well, I think these photos give you a reasonable idea of what moth I’m talking about.

Photo of White Striped Black Face First On NaturalCrooksDotCom

What Do White-striped Black Moth Caterpillars Eat?

I had expected to find that the moth lays eggs on Virginia Creeper. By far and away, this was the most common leaf on which I saw them perched. But according to Peterson’s, the host plant is impatiens.

Photo of Spotted Jewelweed On NaturalCrooksDotCom  Photo of Pale Jewelweed on NaturalCrooksDotCom
The two Jewelweeds of Ontario.

That stumped me for a while, until I realized that Jewelweed, or Touch me not, is actually a type of impatiens. Jewelweed grows rampant in the parks in Mississauga and Oakville, so the caterpillars should have lots to munch.

Photo of White Striped Black Moth Landed on Sand on NaturalCrooksDotCom
This one landed on sand near the Credit River in the early morning. I think it was sunning because it stayed perched in the open for over a minute.

I haven’t seen one of their caterpillars yet but I keep looking. And I’ll enjoy looking at the moths again next June, too.

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Have you seen any White-striped Black moths on your Impatiens? Please share your sighting with a comment.

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