Rosy Maple Moths

Rosy maple moths can be found from May to August in Ohio.  Although classified as a “great silk moth” this moth is the smallest of these great moths.  Rosy maple moths depend on maple trees for survival – hence their name.  Their preferred host trees include red, sugar, silver, and box elder maples.   They aren’t particular – the maples can be in forests, urban or suburban areas.  This small moth has been found in most of Ohio’s counties. 

The bright pink and yellow wing color of this moth is striking.  Their woolly-looking bodies are bright yellow while their belly, legs and antennae are pink.  Their coloring is camouflage and a defense mechanism to trick predators into thinking they are poisonous and not edible.   Rosy maple moths are unable to hear.  But evolution has equipped this moth’s entire body to interact and interpret its surroundings, including their antennae, legs, palps – prongs coming out of the area where their mouth would be, and setae – tiny hairs which are their sense of touch.  Adult moths don’t have mouths or digestive systems.  At this life stage eating is not important as they don’t have long to live, and all their focus and energy go into producing the next generation of moths.  Like most moths, the rosy maple moth is nocturnal.  They mate at night and the female lays her eggs the next evening before sunset.  Two weeks later the eggs hatch into larvae.  During the next month these nocturnal herbivores eat, growing into mature caterpillars about two inches long.  These full-grown caterpillars crawl to the bottom of the host tree and pupate underground.  About two weeks later a moth emerges.  Triggering the pupae to overwinter is a mixture of genetic and seasonal cues of shorter days and longer nights. 

Rosy maple moths are important to the ecosystem as prey.  The moths and their caterpillars are a food source for birds including blue jays, black-capped chickadees, and tufted titmice.  They are threatened by habitat loss, climate change, pesticides, herbicides, and light pollution.  All moths are drawn to bright lights at night and the rosy maple moth is no different.  Moths drawn to light are not mating.  Under the light they will die due to increased predation or exhaustion before daylight.  Unfortunately, under a bright light is the only place many people will see this moth.  Let’s help these amazing moths thrive by protecting dark skies so that they can continue to play their role in the ecosystem.


  1. Lynn miller on May 13, 2024 at 3:02 pm

    I live in the Poconos, pa. Saw one On our window screen, late at night, with our Door Spot Light on it. Got a Pic. Sooo Beautiful. I also have pics of a rare Goth Moth in Our Garage, 2 yrs ago. Video of “Her” Giving Birth. Eggs hatched, but have NEVER Seen another one.

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