Species Profile: Ailanthus Webworm Moth

One of our most common moths in Oklahoma is the Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea). In fact, this moth is found throughout much of the United States. But it hasn't always been so...

The original host plants of this species, Paradise Tree (Simarouba amara) and the closely related Simarouba glauca, are native to south Florida and Cuba. This was the original native range of the Ailanthus Webworm Moth. However, a closely related tree from China named the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) has been widely introduced in North America and this moth has found it to be a perfectly good host plant as well. Therefore, the moth has spread geographically with the introduction of the Tree of Heaven. It is so closely tied to its adopted host plant that it derives its common name from that tree rather than its original host plants. If you live in Oklahoma, chances are that birds have deposited a seed of the Tree of Heaven somewhere in your neighborhood.

Paradise Tree (Simarouba amara), one of the original host plants of this moth, observed by Joshua Sands (@jcs13) in the Florida keys.

Simarouba glauca, the second original host plant of this moth, observed by Jacob Malcom (@jacobogre) in the Florida keys.

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) observed by me in Oklahoma.

This colorful little moth catches many people's eye when they see it resting on a leaf or underneath their porch light. At first glance, most people wouldn't identify it as a moth at all. Maybe it's a gateway moth, enticing some people who would otherwise never think of themselves as interested in moths. They see the Ailanthus and just have to know what it is. Once they find out it's a moth, maybe some of those people will be interested to find out more about moths. Anyway, one could hope!

Anotado por zdufran zdufran, septiembre 11, miércoles 15:21


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