Mating Fall Cankerworm Moths

Subject: Wingless moth..?
Location: Massachusetts
November 27, 2015 7:13 am
I found these 2 moths seemingly mating on top of my shoe last night !! I always call these “winter moths” since they come out in December but I would like more information on maybe why this ones wings are gone? Is one sex flightless? Or did something happen to it? – sorry about the photo quality, my camera would not focus on them.
Signature: Ali

Mating Fall Cankerworm Moths
Mating Fall Cankerworm Moths

Dear Ali,
It is unfortunate that the point of focus is your shoelace, and not the moths, but we believe these are mating Winter Moths,
Operophtera brumata, an introduced species with wingless females and winged males, and the males resemble the individual in your image based on this BugGuide image.  The general appearance of the moths, the time of the sighting and your location are all consistent with what we know about Winter Moths.  According to BugGuide:  “Native to Europe, introduced to Northeast and Pacific Northwest, pest species in areas such as Boston. Established in the NW since the 1970s” and “adult males seen October to February and often attracted to lights”  We should point out that other species in the family Geometridae also have flightless female moths, including the Fall Cankerworm Moth, Alsophila pometaria.  According to BugGuide:  “The females are wingless and stout-bodied, with the body banded dark and pale gray.”  We are amused that your name for these moths is the approved common name. 

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