Scientific name: Pyrrharctia isabella

Common Name: Banded woolly bear caterpillar (larva stage)

    Isabella Tiger Moth (adult stage)


The banded woolly bear gained its common name from its long, thick, fur-like setae (bristle or hair-like structures) which resemble a bear's coat (Bold Systems 2012).


In Latin "Pyr" means fire or heat and "arc" means cold (referring to the arctic or the North pole). "Isabella" refers to an isabell color (greyish-yellow). When all of these Latin word parts are pieced together, the name Pyrrharctia isabella is fitting due to the fact that in the larval stage Pyrrharctia isabella has bright orange bands resembling fire, and portrays the isabella color in the adult stage. Additionally, this species is able to survive cold temperatures and is commonly found in arctic regions, thus attributing significance to the "arc" part of it's name.


Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Insecta
Order Lepidoptera
Family Noctuoidea (super family)
Arctiidae (family)
Genus Pyrrharctia
Species P. isabella

Some determining characteristics of Pyrrharctia isabella in each category of classification:

Eukarya: Eukaryotes are classified by the possession of membrane bound organelles and the presence of a nucleus.

Animalia: Organisms in Kingdom Animalia are multicellular, heterotrophic, typically reproduce sexually, and have their DNA concentrated in the nucleus.

Arthropoda: Arthropods exhibit a segmented body and appendages, an exoskeleton made of chitin, trophic changes (metamorphosis), and an open circulatory system.

Insecta: Members in this class have three pairs of legs, two pairs of wings, a pair of antennae, and three distinct body regions (head, thorax, and abdomen).

Lepidoptera: Pyrrharctia isabella possesses membranous wings covered in scales, a sucking tube mouthpart, larvae with chewing mandibles for eating plants, and silk glands for spinning cocoons.

Arctiidae: This family is distinguished by a metathorax, tympanal organs, setae on its larva, and wing venation.

Pyrrharctia: A genus of moths from North and Central America which contains two species.

Isabella: the larval form has 13 distinct segments.

Learn about Pyrrharctia isabella's Habitat.

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