The larvae of the Ironweed Borer feed on and dig into the stems of ironweed, a native flowering shrub, making sightings of them just as rare as the adults.
Dark black and brown coloring contrast 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 also seen at the outer corner 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.
Scientific Name: Papaipema cerussata
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 22mm (0.78in to 0.86in)
Colors: black, white, orange, brown
Descriptors: spots, trio, three, edge, flying, garden 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.