August 28, 2009
This was hanging out on the inside of my screen door. it’s a little less than an inch in length.
We have gotten so many requests to identify the Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Atteva punctella, in the past two weeks that we have decided to post your letter as our Bug of the Month for September. The caterpillars live in communal webs and feed on the leaves of a pestiferous introduced tree known as the Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima. This tree has been encroaching upon open areas throughout the United States, and is a very difficult species to eradicate. Its spread is compromising the habitat of many native tree and plant species because it reproduces readily from seeds and running roots, often creating big stands of trees that eliminate the natural biodiversity in the area. The trees have escaped cultivation and are often found in industrial areas and disturbed areas where other trees cannot grow. Sadly, the caterpillars feeding on the leaves of the Ailanthus trees does not significantly compromise the health of the tree. As the Ailanthus trees expand their range, we receive more reports of the adult moths. According to BugGuide: “adults fly from March to November” and they are found “From Ontario and New York south to Florida, west to Nebraska and Texas, and south into Mexico.“