Surpise! Naked ladies!

I hadn’t really planned to do more shooting today, but we had a pretty good rain early in the day and, when I went out to see if any of our flowers had broken and fallen over, to bring in for display in a vase, I was drawn to our lovely beds of surprise lilies (Lycoris squamigera), which also bear the common name “naked ladies.” As I pulled up a chair and focused in, my photo angel Frances paid me a sudden visit, for what—to my wondering eyes—should appear(?), but a brightly colored insect that was completely new to my experience, slowly coming into view and apparently enjoying the raindrop remnants.

Naked ladies, ornate moth 1740It was in no apparent hurry, and took a leisurely stroll up one of the stems and onto the outer surface of one of the lilies, then delved deeply into one of the trumpets.

Ornate moth 1752Then it resumed its slow wandering, going on to explore several other blossoms.

Ornate moth 1759If finally came to rest for a while on one’s uppermost petal, then suddenly flew away.

Ornate moth 1769During the session, which lasted maybe 10 minutes, I was pretty sure it was a small beetle, possibly a variety of tiger beetle, but when I had the chance to study my images and was able to make out the fringed edges of the wings, its actual identity as a moth became clear.

Ornate moth 1786I found a similar moth online, and at first thought it was Utethesia ornatrix, commonly known as a bella moth, ornate moth, or rattlebox moth.  I have since revised my tentative ID, thanks to Texas photographer Steve Schwartzman (see his comment below–and check out his website; there’s a link here in my right column), and I’m now confident that it’s an Atteva aurea, also known as an ermine moth or an ailanthus webworm moth.

Ornate moth 1795Thanks again, Frances–what a delightful surprise!

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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7 Responses to Surpise! Naked ladies!

  1. Fascinating images to go along with a fascinating moth – I looked it up, it’s mating system is remarkable. Thank you for sharing :)

    • krikitarts says:

      I just looked it up too, and you are so right about the reproductive peculiarities. There’s a thorough description on Wikipedia if anyone would like to read about it–just Google the latin name.

  2. Vicki says:

    What beautiful colouring it has too. You would never know it as a moth with it’s wings closed.

  3. taphian says:

    that’s really a beautiful insect and photo

  4. I think this is actually an ailanthus webworm moth, Atteva aurea. You can check out the article attached to the second link in my post at

    and see what you think.

    • krikitarts says:

      I agree and thank you heartily for your insight, Steve. I’ve changed the post accordingly. At first look, they are rather similar. Too bad I couldn’t get a look at the underwing when it flew away!

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