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Evergreen Bagworm Moth (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Evergreen Bagworm Moth

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The Evergreen Bagworm Moth is visually interesting, but its littered larval form really gets people's attention.

Updated: 08/30/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
At first glance, the Evergreen Bagworm Moth's caterpillar looks like a moving pine cone, mystifying most observers that are unfamiliar with this family of moths. Bagworm Moth caterpillars wrap themselves in a silk cocoon onto which heaps of dead plant matter are laid. Some individuals are covered in just pine needles, other in small bits of wood mulch. The debris depends on what is on hand or nearby when they are forming the cocoon.

The caterpillar spends much of its life in this makeshift bag, hanging from a branch, blending in with the tree. It is when it crawls around for food that people begin to notice it. The plant-covered bag is carried along with the larva everywhere it goes. It moves slowly by first pushing the head out of the bag and then retreating it in order to advance forward. Once the caterpillar's life stage is over though, it pupates inside the bag it created and emerges a dark and furry moth with feathery antennae if it is a male. A female does not form wings, antennae, or hair when she pupates. She looks more like a cream-colored worm and remains in the bag after emerging from her case. After mating through an opening in the bag, the female fills her empty pupal case with fertilized eggs and eventually dies. Eggs overwinter in the pupal case, still inside the mother's bag, and these offspring hatch in the spring. Larvae immediately leave the mother's bag and begin crafting their own bag-like covering.

This species of moth is usually found in areas with conifer trees. Red cedar and arbor vitae are popular food choices and bags made of dried arbor vitae needles are common in areas where it grows. The caterpillars are usually seen in the spring and early summer; flying adults (males) are usually seen in early autumn.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Psychidae
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          Genus: Thyridopteryx
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            Species: ephemeraeformis

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis
Other Name(s): Common Bagworm, Eastern Bagworm
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 16mm to 35mm (0.62" to 1.37")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; brown; tan
Descriptors: pine; cedar; covered in dried needles; arbor vitae; bark; mulch; crawling; hairy; flying; feathery

Evergreen-Bagworm-Moth Video(s)

An Evergreen Bagworm in its homemade case climbs the side of a tire..

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 16mm (0.6in) and 35mm (1.4in)
Lo: 16mm
Md: 25.5mm
Hi: 35mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and 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 Evergreen Bagworm 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 Evergreen Bagworm Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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