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Elder Shoot Borer (Achatodes zeae)


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



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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
Full-sized image of the Elder-Shoot-Borer-Moth Thumbnail image of the Elder-Shoot-Borer-Moth

Brassy orange tufts of hair on the body stick out from the silvery gray and brown wings of the Elder Shoot Borer.



Updated: 09/25/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Small bunches of burnt-orange, raised hairs on the dorsal side of this moth give it a rugged profile. The hairy thorax is also orange. Though the overall color of the moth seems brown, a pale gray tone may overlay the wings in some individuals. Wavy black lines cross the wings, and sets of black spots run down them. A pale dot by the 'shoulders' might be visible near the thorax, and wings tips have pale patches on them.

Caterpillars for this moth are also called spindle worms, and they feed on elderberry leaves at first, but they migrate to the shoots as they develop and use dead canes for laying more eggs. This feeding activity takes a toll on the elderberry plant. They also consume corn, dahlia, and grasses. The body is a creamy white with black polka dots on it. The head is black, and so is the rear. Look for them on stems or at the splitting point where branches shoot out of the plant. Picking them off the plant is the best way to reduce their impact on it.




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




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Noctuidae
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          Genus: Achatodes
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            Species: zeae
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Achatodes zeae
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 13mm (0.47" to 0.51")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; orange; silver; gray; black; white
Descriptors: orange; silvery; fins; tufts; orange back; flying; pest
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 12mm and 13mm
Lo: 12mm
Md: 12.5mm
Hi: 13mm
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
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Elder Shoot 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 Elder Shoot Borer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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