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Dogwood Borer (Synanthedon scitula)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Dogwood Borer

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Image Credit: Arch Baker
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With transparent wings and black and yellow bands, the Dogwood Borer is a great mimic of bees and wasps.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The first giveaway that this is not a bee is the net of dark veins and a black border around the large, see-through wings. This is actually a moth that is an excellent bee mimic. Its black thorax has two bright yellow stripes on it like a wasp would have, and its abdomen has yellow bands. The tip of the abdomen has a tuft of yellow and black hairs that resemble tail feathers. Look for adults from April through summer.

Caterpillars are known pests of trees, particularly of dogwood and pecan trees. They also use apple, birch, oak, willow, elm, chestnut, black cherry, and pine trees as hosts. They have brown heads and ivory-colored bodies. Two spots on the upper body may be present. After hatching, larvae crawl into tree bark and feed on the cambium layer of the tree. This is where water and nutrients flow up and down, so feeding habits destroy the tissue and can create knots, scars, and bark loss on the tree trunk. Birds like woodpeckers eat them, but if there are a number of larvae in the tree, the tree suffers. Management of the insect includes removing branches that may have been affected, preventing scrapes and injury to tree bark (via mower and trimmers), and insecticides (always use according to label instructions).©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sesiidae
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          Genus: Synanthedon
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            Species: scitula
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Synanthedon scitula
Other Name(s): Pecan Borer
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 12mm (0.31" to 0.47")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow
Descriptors: bee; wasp; hornet; mimic; clear wings; see-through; flying; moth

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 8mm (0.3in) and 12mm (0.5in)
Lo: 8mm
Md: 10mm
Hi: 12mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Dogwood Borer 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 Dogwood Borer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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