Image Credit: Raya A. taken in Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT
Image Credit: Michael W.
Image Credit: Eva
Image Credit: Dave R. from MI
Image Credit: Mark S., Fairfax, VA
Image Credit: Donna H.
The skinny, orange Ailanthus Webworm Moth looks more like a flower beetle thanks to its colorful pattern, tightly closed wings, and appreciation for the flowers of its namesake.
The definitive coloring and stripes on this moth make it unique among Webworm Moths. Bright orange wings are spotted with clusters of white dots ringed in black. They tuck and roll their wings close to their bodies when resting, as opposed to spreading them out or letting them lay flat against themselves. They are very thin as well, so they might look more like a flower beetle than a moth.
They are members of the Ermine moth family. Once a female lays her eggs in her old cocoon (for protection), she dies. Only one generation of moths lives every year. The eggs overwinter in their case and emerge as caterpillars in the spring. Larvae create and share a web on leaves and branches of the Ailanthus tree, also called Tree of Heaven. The web protects and holds the wormy larvae on the tree while they feed on the leaves. Though the moth is named after one type of tree, a variety of plants and shrubs are food for this caterpillar. Other host trees come from the Simarouba genus, a group of leafy shrubs like the Paradise Tree that are found in more tropical climes . The webs these caterpillars make are unattractive and therefore this species can be an unsightly pest, especially in plant nurseries.
Ailanthus Webworm Moths are migratory, spending winter in the southern part of their range. Adults are active in the daytime and can be seen from early spring in warmer regions through autumn in northern regions. They are considered good pollinators. Larvae and their webs are usually seen on plants in late summer and autumn.
Scientific Name: Atteva aurea
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 30mm (0.70in to 1.17in)
Colors: orange; white; black
Descriptors: long, flying, skinny, tubular, thin, spots, rings, dots, pest
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.