Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Atteva aurea
(formerly known as Atteva punctella)
Yponomeutidae or Ermine Moth Family


Adult about an inch or less long, brightly colored in orange and white, with black markings like a stained-glass window.The wings are held folded against the body in a rather unmoth-like manner. Frequent daytime visitor of flowers where it drinks nectar and pollinates. Often mistaken for a beetle or a bug because of these characters.

Larva a thin brown caterpillar with an dark olive stripe on its back and lines of white marks on the side. White bristles along its length. Builds a home in trees-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) by pulling leaflets together with a loose web, hence "Ailanthus webworm.." It eats the leaves of the tree, and eventually forms a pupa in the web and emerges as an adult.

Caterpillar in web

A tropical moth of Florida and the Caribbean where the caterpillars live in and eat paradise trees (Simarouba glauca), a relative of tree-of-heaven. When tree-of-heaven began to be planted in the US, and then escaped to become a serious invasive, the moth spread happily north. However, it cannot survive cold winters and must migrate north fresh each year. Unfortunately, it rarely does serious damage to the nasty invasive trees

Very common in the Park in the summer months. Easily identified by its stained-glass pattern; similar moths exist only in the Tropics. The larva is most easily identifed by its habit of forming webs in trees-of-heaven.


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