Subject: Moth Newly Emerged During Blizzard!?
Location: Champaign, IL USA
January 5, 2014 10:12 pm
I’ve been a long time reader of the site, and thought you might find this one interesting. I was sitting in the basement (finished, half below grade) this evening and heard a humming, buzzing noise from behind the couch. It turned out to be this moth, which looked very ‘fresh.’ I wonder if it had pupated indoors and has just emerged? Do you have any idea what kind of moth it might be? I thought the green striped on the back were nice.
Anyway, I set it near my plants in the kitchen, dribbled some water nearby for it to drink (it also liked the salt on my finger). No chance of it mating, I’m afraid.
Tonight (Jan. 5th 2014) there are blizzard conditions here in Illinois, and it’s twenty below zero with the wind chill. It got cold fast and early this year. Thanks in advance!
Signature: Cold Enough for Me!
Dear Cold Enough for Me!,
What an interesting anecdote you have relayed to us and we are happy you have finally submitted a query. We believe a caterpillar must have wandered into your basement and pupated, and the temperate conditions indoors resulted in early eclosion. This is a Tiger Moth in the genus Halysidota, and the five species documented on BugGuide are all known as Tussock Moths. Only two species of the five range as far north as Illinois: the Sycamore Tussock Moth, Halysidota harrisii and the Banded or Pale Tussock Moth, Halysidota tessellaris. According to BugGuide: “Adults [of Halysidota tessellaris] in the eastern regions can only be separated from Halysidota harrisii by genitalia dissection.”
Thank you so much! There is a large mature Sycamore tree close to the basement (and the basement door), so it’s reasonable that it could be either of these moth species. Great site, keep up the good work.