Location: near Macon, GA
August 4, 2011 3:39 pm
I saw this moth outside my house yesterday (Aug 4 2011). I’ve never seen one before (having lived in the area for nearly a decade) and was hoping you could help me identify it. The back part of it is especially odd to me; it reminds me of a spinal column almost. The pictures are cropped to limit size, but hopefully they offer enough detail for you to be able to tell.
We tried and we failed. Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck trying to identify this unusual moth.
Thanks to a comment, we now know that this is a Erythrina Borer, Terastia meticulosalis, and we verified that on BugGuide, but other than a food plant for the larva and a range that includes some southern states, we did not learn much else. Erythrina is the genus name for a group of trees we have always called Coral Trees, and since some species are native to the warmer states, the moth might also be native. We also located a link to a technical paper written in 1922 by O. H. Swezey, entitled The Erythrina Twig-Borer (Terastia meticulosalis) in Hawaii (Pyralidae, Lepidoptera). Here is a citation from that paper: “Dyar, in Journal of the New York Ent. Soc, IX, 21, 1901, describes the larva from Erythrina herbacea in southern Florida, and says: ‘The larva is an internal feeder, boring in the younger stems which it completely hollows out, killing them. When the plant is in early flower, the young flower heads are often killed and webbed up into a foul mass by this larva. Spins a large webby cocoon in the ground.’”