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Ironweed Borer (Papaipema cerussata)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Ironweed Borer, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 10/27/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Ironweed Borer  
Picture of Ironweed-Borer-Moth
Picture of Ironweed-Borer-Moth

The larvae of the Ironweed Borer feed on and dig into the stems of ironweed, a native flowering shrub, making them just as rare to see as adults.

Dark black and brown coloring contrasts with clusters of white spots on the wings of the adult Ironweed Borer. Three or four white dots are grouped near the base of the wings. Three larger white dots are in the center of the forewings, angled toward the head. A third cluster of white forms a line angled toward the abdomen. The abdomen is a tawny brown color that is complemented by a brownish corner at the outer edge of each forewing.

Like other moths in this genus, the caterpillars chew into plant parts. This species favors ironweed, a type of aster. Larvae eat into the stems and may be hard to find once inside. Adults can be found in open fields, meadows and marshes, especially in areas where ironweed is present. Despite a large range and versatile habitats, sightings of adult Ironweed Borers are not that common.

Ironweed Borer Information

Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common Name: Ironweed Borer
Scientific Name: Papaipema cerussata

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Lepidoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Noctuidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Papaipema
       Arrow graphic Species: cerussata

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 20 mm to 22 mm (0.78 inches to 0.858 inches)
Identifying Colors: black, white, orange, brown
Additional Descriptors: spots, trio, three, edge, flying

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Kentucky; Maryland; Mississippi; Nebraska; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Virginia; West Virginia; Ontario; Quebec; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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