Tag Archives: lepidoptera

Banded tussock moth

Banded tussock moth (Halysidota tessellaris) caterpillar with stemmata peeking out from behind the anterior tufts. The second photograph shows the barbed setae, which will eventually be detached and rewoven into the cocoon.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Banded tussock moth (Halysidota tessellaris) caterpillar

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Barbed setae of the banded tussock moth (Halysidota tessellaris) caterpillar

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Variable oakleaf caterpillar

This is a newly-molted variable oakleaf caterpillar (Lochmaeus manteo), with old head capsule still attached. I initially thought the capsule was the head and that the thorax had eyespots, but John and Jane Balaban on Bugguide.net pointed out the obvious to me.

This species sprays formic acid, apparently.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Lochmaeus caterpillar

Close-up of Lochmaeus caterpillar

FYI, Al Denelsbeck posted an almost identical image here, complete with close-up of the eyes.

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Grape leaf miner identification

There are two species of moth that commonly mine grape leaves (Vitis spp.) where I live (Pennsylvania), and I think I’ve figured out how to distinguish them. I’m sharing here just in case somebody might be in need of tips.

The one I most commonly see is the grape leaf miner, Phyllocnistis vitifoliella. It has a very prominent, dark frass line in the center of its mine path, and the epidermis is visibly pushed up by the larva. Further images of the mine (and of the adult) can be found on the relevant BugGuide.net page.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Grape leaf miner (Phyllocnistis vitifoliella)

Less commonly found, at least in my immediate area, is the American grape leaf miner, Phyllocnistis vitegenella. Unlike the previous species, there’s no visible frass line (the frass is dark and diffusely deposited, I gather), and the path looks more like the glossy residue left by a slug. A further difference is that late-instar P. vitegenella induce leaf margins to curl slightly prior to pupation. You can see that curling on the upper right part of the leaf in the photograph. BugGuide.net has more mine photographs. Photographs of the adults are here (auf Deutsch).

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; American grape leaf miner (Phyllocnistis vitegenella)

There are reports of a third species in Pennsylvania (and Kentucky), Antispila viticordifoliella, but I haven’t encountered it. So here’s a link to it’s Wikipedia page, with image from that page. Apparently the frass is collected in irregular lines or big clumps. There’s also A. oinophylla, but apparently it hasn’t been found in Pennsylvania (yet?).
Antispila viticordifoliella image from Wikipedia

If I’ve made any errors in the above, let me know.

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Raspberry crown borer

I LOVE this clearwing moth. The raspberry crown borer (Pennisetia marginata) is a Batesian mimic of (I think) Vespula maculifrons and V. pensylvanica, our native yellow jackets. If you’re mildly impressed by the resemblance, you should see them in flight or walking around a leaf. They have completely nailed the cocky, jerky yellow jacket attitude. I can’t seem to find a video to link to, but this is a related species. If you live near a big patch of raspberry or blackberry, go look for them right now … they are out mating and laying eggs.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Female raspberry crown borer (Pennisetia marginata)

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Female raspberry crown borer (Pennisetia marginata)

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Ectoparasitic wasp larvae

Here are photographs of a clump of ectoparasitic larvae I found attached to a small caterpillar. I think they are wasps in the genus Euplectrus (Eulophidae). Females apparently inject hosts with a venom that prevents the caterpillar from molting, thus preventing the caterpillar from shedding the larvae along with the discarded skin. Caterpillar was approximately 12 mm in length. Media, PA.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Larvae of ectoparasitic wasps on caterpillar

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Larvae of ectoparasitic wasps on caterpillar

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Larvae of ectoparasitic wasps on caterpillar

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