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American Lappet Moth (Phyllodesma americana)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American Lappet Moth

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Teresa J. from FL
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Image Credit: Taken in Michigan
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Image Credit: Tierney B. from GA
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American Lappet Moths hold their hind wings out from underneath the forewings, creating the illusion of a dried out leaf.

Updated: 04/19/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Well-camouflaged among dried foliage, the American Lappet Moth uses its unique profile to create dimension in the hopes that it escapes the notice of predators. The brown moth has scalloped wing edges and bands of lighter color that also help in that endeavor. Some individuals are dark brown while others are golden brown or tawny. It ranges across most of the continent and can be found in urban areas as well as less developed ones.

Caterpillars feed on the leaves of alder, birch, and poplar trees as well as roses. A lappet is a lobe or fleshy outcropping, and the caterpillar has many near the lower sides of its body that grow dense tufts of hairs. When stretched out, the grayish-brown caterpillar exposes two bright orange bands between segments by its head. It looks like a small, short twig when the orange bands are not revealed. Two broods can be produced each year offering many opportunities to see both larvae and adults.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Lasiocampidae
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          Genus: Phyllodesma
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            Species: americana
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Phyllodesma americana
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 25mm (0.59" to 0.98")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, gray, white
Descriptors: hind wings, flat, flare, side wings, stick out, flying, hairy, scalloped lines

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 15mm (0.6in) and 25mm (1.0in)
Lo: 15mm
Md: 20mm
Hi: 25mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the American Lappet Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the American Lappet Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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