Polka Dot Wasp Moth, Oleander Moth (Syntomeida epilais)

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Arctiidae
Genus: Syntomeida
Species: epilais


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Cape Coral, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Deland, Florida (3 reports)
Dunnellon, Florida
Edgewater, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2 reports)
Haines City, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lady Lake, Florida (2 reports)
Orlando, Florida
Oviedo, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Panama City, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Tampa, Florida (2 reports)
Tavares, Florida
Wauchula, Florida
Zolfo Springs, Florida
Kingsland, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Tybee Island, Georgia
Bluffton, South Carolina (2 reports)
Charleston, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina (2 reports)
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Apr 22, 2020, jimdog from Tavares, FL wrote:

This little bugger is my nemesis. The adult is a beautiful insect, but the larva can ruin your day/week/year. These buggers will strip a Mandevilla bare in 1 to 2 days.

The eggs are laid on the underside of new leaf growths. The other day I found 1 large caterpillar on my Mandevilla. I removed him with pliars (dont touch, they sting) and dispatched him with my shoe. Then looked very closely over the plant. I saw no evidence of eggs or other large caterpillars, but I did see what appeared to be aphids the same color as the caterpillar that were stationary and seemed to have a feeding tube stuck into the plant. I dont know if those were just hatchlings or if they were aphids. I broke off the branch and sprayed them with Bacillus thuringiensis spray and bagged them and ... read more


On Jul 10, 2018, cwbTV from Lady Lake, FL wrote:

Last year the caterpillar also defoliated my beautiful scarlet mandevila, all my dessert rose plants as well as my Oleander. Even though all my plants returned this year, it apparently can weaken the plants and can leave them susceptible to other problems. I've seen the polka dot moth but thought a white moth which I found numerous times inside the mandevila bloom was the culprit.
My research shows that a biological spray, BT (Dipel or Thuricide) will work. I will try BT and report back with my results. Here is a link to what I found: [[email protected]]


On Mar 21, 2011, klutzo from Clearwater, FL wrote:

I love the beauty of these moths and find they are very attracted to white impatiens, so I planted some just to get more of them in my garden and it worked.


On Sep 14, 2010, MarkHathaway from Edgewater, FL wrote:

I have been seeing these Polka Dot Wasp Moth in my flower bed lately! Mostly hangin around the Lantana Flowers!


On Sep 11, 2009, phalvorson from Panama City, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Moth itself does not defoliate oleander, but the caterpillar does. Caterpillar is orange with black tufts of spiny hair sticking out, and it devours oleander leaves. Moth itself, at least in my yard, is all over my white butterfly bush. Moth displays wasp-like characteristics (flying pattern and sometimes behaving territorial) but is harmless. Flies during daytime. Very common in the southeast. Female sends out a sonic mating call to attract male mates. Very pretty -- moth colors are quite patriotic!


On Oct 5, 2007, Beachduffer from Fernandina Beach, FL wrote:

Photo taken in Fernandina Beach, Florida ( Nassau County)


On Aug 28, 2006, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I like having this moth in my yard, but it does defoliate my Oleander bush several times a year. I planted the Oleander specifically to attract the moth.
This can be a very friendly moth, probably due to it's aposematic coloration (warning, don't eat me 'cause I taste bad and may kill you) It's a slow flying moth that I have had on two occasions land on my fingers.
The spines on it's caterpillar are like small paintbrushes with many hairs per spine.