Currently viewing the category: "Ghost Moths and Wood Moths"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Never seen this before
Location: Lancaster County
July 11, 2016 8:17 am
Found this on my flag this morning. Have never seen this before? Please enlighten.
Signature: James DeBord

Wood Leopard Moth

Wood Leopard Moth

Dear James,
Where is Lancaster County?  If you are in UK, this is a native species.  If you are in Pennsylvania or North Carolina, this is an introduced species.  It is a Wood Leopard Moth,
Zeuzera pyrina, and according to BugGuide:  “Supposedly introduced (from its native Europe?) in mid-1800s; first reported in North America at Hoboken, New Jersey in 1882.  It is considered a pest of some fruit trees.” 

Yes sorry, I didn’t specify. Pennsylvania. Thanks for the info. I have never seen one before in all my years in PA.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Sexual dimorphism? Sphinx moths?
Location: Troy, VA
June 25, 2016 10:00 am
I photographed these two moths a couple of hours apart. When I looked at the photo of the second, darker moth, I realized it was definitely the same kind of moth as the first, but black and grey where the first one was white and blackish/grey. I was very excited to see such an interesting color change between the two moths. I have looked at many websites searching for these markings and the closest I have come up with is a Rustic Sphinx Moth, but really, I’m not convinced. I wonder if the difference in the moths is sexual dimorphism as I believe the dark moth to be male and the white one female. Or just the normal variety of color range in a species? I hope you find these photos as interesting as I did.
Signature: Grace Pedalino

Carpenter Worm Moth

Carpenter Worm Moth

Dear Grace,
While we agree that these are the same species, we are not convinced it is an example of sexual dimorphism, but rather, variability of tonality within the species.  Furthermore, these are NOT Sphinx Moths.  These are Carpenter Worm Moths,
Prionoxystus robiniae, a species we identified on BugGuide where it states:  “Larvae bore in wood of living deciduous trees: locust, oak, chestnut, poplar, willow, maple, and ash.”  Here is a dark individual from BugGuide and here is a light individual from BugGuide.

Carpenter Worm Moth

Carpenter Worm Moth

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Giant Wood Moth?
Location: Ballarat, Victoria
April 11, 2016 5:25 pm
Hi,
Found this giant late evening in Ballarat, Victoria.
Smaller one seen the night previous. Another visitor from our Northern States?
Regards
Signature: HB

Female Rain Moth we believe

Female Rain Moth we believe

Dear HB,
We have done a bit of research, and we are not certain we are correct, but this is the best we can do.  Wood Moths, also known as Goat Moths and Witchetty Grubs are in the family Cossidae.  We classify them on our site together with Ghost Moths or Swift Moths in the family Hepialidae because we have trouble distinguishing members of the two families from one another.  We believe your moth is a Rain Moth,
Trictena atripalpis, a species we first located on an April 7, 2016 posting on The Advertiser which states:  “NATURE is making its own weather forecasts in South Australia’s parched South-East, where the giant “rain moth” has arrived ahead of the Bureau of Meteorology’s own predictions of drought-easing falls this week.  Large numbers of the trictena atripalpis moth, which has a wingspan up to 16cm, have been reported in Keith, Kingston, Penola and Mount Gambier and farming mythology has it that the insects bring rain.  Science backs this to some extent, as the creatures grow from ground-dwelling “bardi grubs” and are most likely to emerge from the earth when autumn rain is in the air.  Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Hannah Marsh said a series of fronts were expected to move across the South-East over the next few days.”  According to NatureOutWest:  “The large moths emerge from their holes in the ground after rains. They are frequently seen when they are attracted to lights. They are so large they almost resemble small bats or birds as they flutter around lights at night.”  Though we missed it the first two times we scanned Butterfly House, once we had a scientific name from the previous two sites, we learned that “The moths have grey-brown wings with two variable ragged silver flash markings across each forewing. The forewings often also show intricate sinuous patterns of pale lines. The wingspan of the males can reach 12 cms. That of the females can reach 16 cms. The moths have tripectinate antennae.”  We suspect that only the male Rain Moths or Waikerie may have the “ragged silver flash markings” and also that they have the more developed “tripectinate antennae” to locate the female when she releases pheromones, and we also believe that all the individuals pictured on Butterfly House are males, though the site makes a point of stating:  “The adult females deposit large numbers of eggs. Indeed, this species holds the World Fecundity Record, for the greatest number of eggs being deposited by a non-social insect. One dissected female had 44,100 eggs. It is thought that the eggs are laid in flight, just being scattered across the ground.  The moths a famous for being able to predict rain. In some areas in autumn, the moths appear on only one night each year, yet all appear together in droves, and always just a few hours before a major downpour in that area. Perhaps the rain helps wash the scattered eggs into crevices in the ground, as well as dormant seeds to germinate, so that after the eggs hatch: the young caterpillars can easily find roots on which to feed.”  Your moths both have much slimmer antennae, leading us to believe they are both females.  This image on FlickR supports our supposition.  Forecaster Hannah Marsh was quoted on The Advertiser as stating:  “A strong low-pressure system will pass well to the south of Tasmania on Sunday with a cold front moving over the southern coasts of the state,” she said.  “Those fronts will bring gradual shower activity for the next six days.”  We would love to know if the weather forecast was correct, and if any male Rain Moths with more spectacular antennae arrive at your porch light, we hope you will send us additional images.

A smaller female Rain Moth, we believe

A smaller female Rain Moth, we believe

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for your prompt and very informative reply,
We have had no rain sadly as we could’ve done with a good soaking but nonetheless happy to be visited by such an interesting creature. A few days before this beauty showed up out the rear of the property.
Ive sinc

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What Moth Is This?
Location: South-western suburbs of Sydney
February 12, 2016 5:31 pm
Hi there!
I recently found a moth in the south western suburbs of Sydney that I have never seen before in this area. I assumed it was some kind of Wood Moth, however I’m not too sure and I was hoping that you would be able to tell me what moth this is.
Thank You Very Much!
Regards,
Signature: Lauren

Wood Moth or Ghost Moth

Wood Moth or Ghost Moth

Dear Lauren,
This is either a Wood Moth in the family Cossidae, which is represented on Butterfly House, or a Ghost Moth in the family Hepialidae, also represented on Butterfly House.  We frequently have trouble distinguishing members of these families from one another, and your lateral view does not provide the same wing detail that a dorsal view provides.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wood moth from WA?
Location: Dongara, Western Australia
November 29, 2015 10:27 am
This moth was found resting on a wall in Dongara, Western Australia. I suspect it’s a wood moth of some kind – what do you think?
Signature: Nick S

Wood Moth

Wood Moth

Dear Nick,
This is most likely a Wood Moth in the family Cossidae that is well represented on Butterfly House, and based on the image of the adult posted to Butterfly House, it does look to us like Endoxyla leucomochla whose edible larva is called a Witchety Grub.  We would not rule out though that it might be a Ghost Moth in the family Hepialidae, also represented on Butterfly House.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mystery moths?
Location: Bathurst, NSW
November 21, 2015 9:45 pm
Hi there,
Any help identifying these? Found today in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia .
Many thanks
Signature: Mark

Mating Wood Moths

Mating Wood Moths

Dear Mark,
We believe these are mating Wood Moths in the family Cossidae, which are pictured on Butterfly House, and we also believe that they might be
Endoxyla mackeri, which is also pictured on Butterfly House and is listed as occurring in New South Wales.  According to the Australian Museum site:  “The larvae of some species of wood moths are better known as witchetty grubs and bore into smooth-barked eucalypt trees. As they grow, the tunnels left behind in the bark increase in width. They may spend up to one year within the tree before emerging as moths. The newly emerged, small caterpillars lower themselves to the ground on silky threads where they are thought to feed on plant roots. As adults they are unable to feed and only live for a few days. The heavy females lay about 20,000 tiny eggs before dying.”  We sometimes have trouble distinguishing Wood Moths from Ghost Moths in the family Hepialidae, and we would not rule out that possibility, and that family is also represented on Butterfly House.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination