Okefenokee Zale Moth Caterpillar

Okefenokee Zale Moth caterpillar. Photographed on the Suwannee River Middle Fork canoe trail in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. May 4, 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at Dreamstime.com.

How cool. I had no idea that the Okefenokee had its own moth! And I wasn’t even on the lookout for this little critter when I found it.

My daughter and I were paddling north up the Suwannee Middle Fork (red trail) from Billy’s Lake. The run is usually quite wide, but at some points can require some careful steering around Cypress buttresses. On one of those maneuvers around the base of a cypress tree, I grabbed onto a stump to try to swing the canoe a bit so my daughter, sitting in the back, wouldn’t crash into the fetterbushes. As I held the stump, just a few feet from my face I caught a glint of orange, black and white.

Okefenokee Zale Moth caterpillar. Species of owlet moth. Conservation status imperiled. Photographed on the Suwannee River Middle Fork canoe trail in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. May 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at Dreamstime.com.

“Hmmmm. Cool looking caterpillar”, I thought to myself, but didn’t immediately stop the canoe. At the next tree, I saw a couple more and decided to switch to a macro lens and capture a few shots. There were about a dozen, maybe two, munching the leaves and tender vines.

Upon returning home and posting most of my finds on iNaturalist and with some help from Ryan St Laurent, I discovered this bright caterpillar was the Okefenokee Zale Moth, Zale perculta. I also discovered there really isn’t much information published on the internet about. I did learn that they are listed as “imperiled” because of their specialized diet and habitat in which they occur, but not “immediately imperiled” since the Okefenokee is protected as a National Wildlife Refuge. Thankfully, they are also found in a few other swamp habitats outside of the Okefenokee.


iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/47382643

Some helpful sources:

Published by William Wise

Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. Nature journaling and wildlife photography has been a favorite pastime since the ‘90s. I graduated from University of Georgia Warnell Forestry School's wildlife program in 1996. I'm currently an animal shelter manager/photographer and reside in Athens, Georgia, USA with my wife and two teenage daughters. My website www.williamwisephoto.com is a wildlife and birding photo website documenting the beauty, design and wonder of creation. I have a deep love of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. I became a devoted Christian in 1993 under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. The theme of my blogging comes from The Message version of Psalms 104 -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."

2 thoughts on “Okefenokee Zale Moth Caterpillar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: