Sunday, July 29, 2007

Just Another Pretty Face


I've seen these before but have never had my camera handy. This time, I didn't have it with me either, but I stopped what I was doing (deadheading) and ran up to the house to get it and hoped this colorful guy didn't take off.

He let me snap photos of him until I tired of it, which is more than a lot of bugs will allow you to do. Perhaps he knows he's a handsome fella and is more than happy to bask in the admiration of those who come across him.

I wish he could have told me his name, though. I've been trying to track it down, but so far have been unable to identify him. I think he's probably a moth of some sort, but I really don't know. Most of the time his antennae were tucked back under his body, but now and then he'd bring them out and 'sniff' the air with them.


EDIT: Thanks to Alyssa, this has now been identified as a Tropical Ermine Moth (Atteva punctella), also known as Ailanthus webworm.

Native to south Florida and the American tropics, it migrates north for the winter, sometimes as far north as eastern Canada. Its host plant is the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) as well as Paradise Tree (Simarouba glauca), which are native to China and were introduced into the United States in the late 18th century.

The Tree of Heaven was the subject of Betty Smith's famous novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

While the larva stage of this beautiful moth wraps itself in leaves of the host plant and eventually consumes them, they are rarely a problem. The adult moth is a pollinator.


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13 comments:

farmingfriends said...

What a magnificent looking insect. I have had a look in my garden wildlife book but couldn't find this fella - the only insect that looked remotely like it was the potato leafhopper but that was yellow and black. Sorry I couldn't be of any help but thanks for sharing this unusual insect.
Sara from farmingfriends

Mark said...

I like it when insects can be a bit more accomodating, this one is certainly a star.

Cheers Mark

Jean said...

Wonderful photo! The "bug" looks great with the background flower, just like it was planned.

Laurie & Chris said...

Really great photo. You are lucky it stayed there when you went to get your camera. We will try to see if we can find any info about this little guy.

No Rain said...

What a pretty insect. It's hard to tell if it has mothlike wings or shell-like wings. You are lucky to get these shots.

Beth said...

The flower ain't too shabby, either! Great photos.

RUTH said...

Isn't it wonderful when an insect poses for the camera. A great shot and what an interesting little fella he is. Happy GTS

Muum said...

wow, let us all know if you ever find out what it is!

kate said...

He is a gorgeous creature ... I haven't a clue what he's called, but I really like him!!

'The Girl in the Cafe' will be put in the mail soon! I thought it was so cool that it was off to you from here! Yippee... I'll be curious to see what you think of the film.

Alyssa said...

Hi Kylee, I found the name of this beautiful moth. It's from the Family Yponomeutidae, Subfamily Attevinae and called the Tropical Ermine Moth. A very good site for identifying critters is www.bugguide.net. I just love the daylily he's sitting on.

Michelle said...

I had one of these on my radish and mint flowers. I saw on another blog that they are beneficial but can't remember what they were called. If it were up to me . . . Mosaic Moth!

Kylee said...

Alyssa, thank you! I actually looked at Bug Guide and was unable to find it. I've got another beetle-type that I can't find either. Maybe you could find this one?

I tried to post the picture in this comment, but it wouldn't let me, so here is the URL for the picture:

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v31/kbaumle/?action=view¤t=beetleUK1_7_28_07_a.jpg

Laurie said...

I just wanted to thank you for finding the information that you have. I came across your page while looking it up. We have had this "moth" on our front door screen for days. The movement of the door doesn't bother him. About 5 days ago I tried to pick him up and he flew on me, then down to the steps. Today, he's back on the door. My 11 year old daughter is convinced he's good luck...like a lady bug. I'm not sure what attraction he has to my door day and night without leaving but thanks for the info on the Tropical Ermine Moths.

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