What Is This?
When I first saw this insect on the wall outside my front door I was confused. Was it bug, a beetle? As you can see, only four of its six legs show when it is at rest. When it takes flight it resembles a wasp. But, it is actually a tiny moth with unusual habits.
Lives the Sunlight:
Most moths, as you probably know, are most active at night (nocturnal). You have probably seen many that were attracted to the lights around your front door. These moths, however, are most active by daylight (diurnal) as they gather nectar from a wide variety of flowers. They are actually great pollinators.
Biological Control of Invasive Species:
One benefit of these insects is their feeding habits. An invasive plant known as the Tree of Heaven has widely displaced native species in certain areas. These plants are sometimes sold by nurseries to unsuspecting gardeners only to find out later their new treelike shrub has become many more. Enter our heroes, the Ermine Moths. They have an appetite for these plants and can completely defoliate a plant leading to its eradication.
When the young hatch from their eggs they grab two our three nearby leaves of the host plant and then wrap them up with loose webbing. These webs can easily be expanded to accommodate several larvae. The webbing is often reused by other young and expanded. While inside these webs the hungry caterpillars are hard a work chewing down on the leaves within.
Yipes! I See Stripes!
The caterpillars have a green stripe down their backs. They also have white and olive-green stripes on their sides.
Adults Win the Beauty Contest.
I think the adult moths take the award for being the most attractive. I love their coloration. They remind me of a Halloween celebration. It looks like an artist painted their wings with splotches of orange, black, and white. Their appearance is eye catching.Can you imagine a piece of pottery covered with this pattern?
Take a Closer Look:
Scientific Name: Atteva Aires: Thought to be natives of Florida and Costa Rica.
(Formerly classified as Atteva punctella).
Keep Your Eyes Open:
I hope you, like I, have developed the habit of looking around trying to see things you have missed in the past. In God’s creation we often miss some of the most interesting and beautiful creatures due to our fast-paced life style. Take some time each day to have some down-time to just sit and look around you. What have you missed before? You can also set apart some time to fellowship with your Father in Heaven. It’s amazing how refreshing it can be just to slow down a bit and enjoy what God has created for us. He often reminds me with these words of wisdom, “Be still and know that I Am God.”
4 thoughts on “Is It a Bug, a Beetle, a Wasp?….No! It’s An Ermine Moth.”
I’ve always wondered what those little guys were! I see them everywhere but didn’t know they were a moth, nor did I know that their caterpillars are what I’ve always called “web worms.” Very informative!
There are actually other types of moths that use this same tactic. Some are very destructive to desirable plants. These guys are really tiny in size. Glad you are enjoying my posts.
LikeLiked by 1 person
The squash vine borer moth is also unusual-looking. I just learned about it a couple of years ago. We had a tremendous problem with them in our garden but I’m hoping taking a year off and planting 2 late plants in a different location will help. 🙂
This was so cool! What a beautiful bug. Chloe learned these are moths, Titus learned that it drinks nectar and has cool artistic patterns, Joshua liked that God has them eating plants that are invasive. Thank you for this great blog post and the reminder to slow down to see the beauty and mystery around us.