The Evergreen Bagworm Moth is visually interesting, but its littered larval form really gets people's attention.
Evergreen Bagworm Moth Videos
An Evergreen Bagworm in its homemade case climbs the side of a tire.
At first glance, the Evergreen Bagworm Moth's caterpillar looks like a moving pine cone, mystifying most observers that are unfamiliar with this family of moths. Bagworm Moth caterpillars wrap themselves in a silk cocoon onto which heaps of dead plant matter are laid. Some individuals are covered in just pine needles, other in small bits of wood mulch. The debris depends on what is on hand or nearby when they are forming the cocoon.
The caterpillar spends much of its life in this makeshift bag, hanging from a branch, blending in with the tree. It is when it crawls around for food that people begin to notice it. The plant-covered bag is carried along with the larva everywhere it goes. It moves slowly, pushing the head out of the bag and then retreating it in order to advance forward. Once the caterpillar's life stage is over though, it pupates inside the bag it created and emerges a dark and furry moth with feathery antennae if it is a male. A female does not form wings, antennae, or hair when she pupates. She looks more like a cream-colored worm and remains in the bag after emerging from her case. After mating through an opening in the bag, the female fills her empty pupal case with fertilized eggs and eventually dies. Eggs overwinter in the pupal case, still inside the mother's bag, and these offspring hatch in the spring. Larvae immediately leave the mother's bag and begin crafting their own bag-like covering.
This species of moth is usually found in areas with conifer trees. Red cedar and arbor vitae are popular food choices and bags made of dried arbor vitae needles are common in areas where it grows. The caterpillars are usually seen in the spring and early summer; flying adults (males) are usually seen in early autumn.
Scientific Name: Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis
Other Name(s): Common Bagworm, Eastern Bagworm
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 16mm to 35mm (0.62in to 1.37in)
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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.