The bold black spots on the white Wood Leopard Moth are unique and attractive, but this showy flyer is an enemy to fruit and decorative trees alike.
The Wood Leopard Moth is a non-native species in North America that was spotted on the East Coast in the 1870s. In Europe and Asia, this moth has long been considered a pest to fruit trees like plum, pear, and apple. Decorative trees like ash, oak, elm, willow, and beech are also susceptible to damage by this species. The white moth has six medium-sized black dots on the hairy thorax. The veined wings are covered in rows of black dots as well. Black legs stick out from the body.
The life cycle of the Wood Leopard Moth includes a period of 2 to 3 years where the caterpillar is hidden inside of stems of host plants, feeding off the juices before it pupates into the winged adult. Caterpillars leave a reddish frass, a mix of feces and sawdust, at the base of affected tree trunks. They siphon the nutrients of the tree, resulting in browning leaves, death of new shoots, and damaged branches. The fruit production of infested trees suffers greatly and limbs of the tree either fall off. If recognized, affected branches can be deliberately removed and burned to try to contain the spread of the caterpillars. Chemical pesticides applied to the entire tree as well as to entry points on branches also helps control the larvae.
Adult moths are active from the beginning of summer to the beginning of autumn, leaving a good deal of time to reproduce and find host plants.
Scientific Name: Zeuzera pyrina
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 35mm to 60mm (1.37in to 2.34in)
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.