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Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth (Speranza pustularia)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Dave and Glenda E., taken in Swaledale, IA
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Image Credit: Tim G., taken in Ricketts Glen State Park, PA
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A frequent guest in deciduous and evergreen forests, the Lesser Maple Spanworm has one-of-a-kind markings to help identify it.

Updated: 08/03/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Lighter and half the size of the Large Maple Spanworm Moth, the Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth's design makes up for what it lacks in wingspan. The bright, white moth has four brown marks on the outer edge of each forewing. Though the first and second marks almost cross, it is the third set of marks that span the wings with a thin brown trail, linking both sides. This line may also stretch across the hindwings. The fourth and lowest mark is bigger and usually has no line spanning the wing. A generously spaced black-and-white checkered bottom runs along all four wings. Antennae are white with orange-brown 'teeth' projecting from them like a comb. The face has an extended mouth part that almost resembles a beak.

Females lay gray or pink eggs on a host tree in autumn, which will weather the cold and hatch in early summer. The slender, long caterpillar is green with yellow and green lines running down the 'spine'. It feeds mostly on maple tree leaves, but also enjoys eating from birch, poplar, fir, hemlock, and other trees. It pupates in midsummer and emerges as a winged adult before autumn. One generation is produced each year.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

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

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Geometridae
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          Genus: Speranza
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            Species: pustularia

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Speranza pustularia
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 27mm (0.70" to 1.06")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; brown
Descriptors: faint lines; rings; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 18mm (0.7in) and 27mm (1.1in)
Lo: 18mm
Md: 22.5mm
Hi: 27mm

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 Lesser Maple Spanworm 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 Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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