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Wood Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Wood Leopard Moth

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The bold black spots on the white Wood Leopard Moth are unique and attractive, but this showy flyer is an enemy to fruit and decorative trees alike.

Updated: 01/06/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Wood Leopard Moth is a non-native species in North America that was spotted on the East Coast in the 1870s. In Europe and Asia, this moth has long been considered a pest to fruit trees like plum, pear, and apple. Decorative trees like ash, oak, elm, willow, and beech are also susceptible to damage by this species. The white moth has six medium-sized black dots on the hairy thorax. The veined wings are covered in rows of black dots as well. Black legs stick out from the body.

The life cycle of the Wood Leopard Moth includes a period of 2 to 3 years where the caterpillar is hidden inside of stems of host plants, feeding off the juices before it pupates into the winged adult. Caterpillars leave a reddish frass, a mix of feces and sawdust, at the base of affected tree trunks. They siphon the nutrients of the tree, resulting in browning leaves, death of new shoots, and damaged branches. The fruit production of infested trees suffers greatly and limbs of the tree either fall off. If recognized, affected branches can be deliberately removed and burned to try to contain the spread of the caterpillars. Chemical pesticides help control the larvae when applied to the entire tree, as well as on entry points on branches.

Adult moths are active from the beginning of summer to the beginning of autumn, leaving a good deal of time to reproduce and find host plants.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

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

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Cossidae
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          Genus: Zeuzera
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            Species: pyrina

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Zeuzera pyrina
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 35mm to 60mm (1.37" to 2.36")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; black
Descriptors: spots; dots; fluffy; hairy; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 35mm (1.4in) and 60mm (2.4in)
Lo: 35mm
Md: 47.5mm
Hi: 60mm

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