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Small Bird Dropping Moth (Ponometia erastrioides)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Small Bird Dropping Moth

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One of nature's most popular allergens is the favorite food of the Small Bird Dropping Moth.

Updated: 08/30/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The white and black Small Bird Dropping Moth looks just like it sounds. This form of camouflage helps protect the moth from predators. The front part of the moth is white and in the middle of this stands a single small black dot. The lower part of the wings are mottled with black, white, gray, brown, and even green colors, creating the marbled effect often seen in bird poop.

Caterpillars of the Small Bird Dropping Moth feed on ragweed, a plant that causes many people to sniffle, sneeze, and struggle to breathe in the spring and summer. This tiny natural consumer of ragweed can produce up to three broods in one year. It is a common moth, just like its food source. Look for this moth in the weedy parts of yards, fields, and lots. The larval form of the Slug Caterpillar Moth is unlike the typical, tubular caterpillar. Its flattened body is oddly shaped, almost giving it the appearance of a chubby leaf. It is still slow moving, like ordinary caterpillars, but it has a few suckers instead of legs and feet. Those suckers make it possible to travel on the under-side of leaves. Like a typical slug, it glides along, feeding on the leaves of a variety of plants. It can be found in a variety of habitats. Some species have stinging bristles, or hairs, on the caterpillar. People may be allergic to them. This defensive adaptation protects it from being bothered by humans, but it was intended to deter avian and insect predators.

The adult moth is somewhat interesting. Most are brown and may have residual green or white markings on them. The adult is nocturnal and does not eat. It spends all its energy trying to reproduce instead.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

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

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Noctuidae
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          Genus: Ponometia
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            Species: erastrioides

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Ponometia erastrioides
Other Name(s): Small Bird Lime Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 9mm to 10mm (0.35" to 0.39")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; black; brown; green
Descriptors: poop; vomit; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 9mm (0.4in) and 10mm (0.4in)
Lo: 9mm
Md: 9.5mm
Hi: 10mm

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 Small Bird Dropping 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 Small Bird Dropping Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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