Tree of Heaven: Food and Shelter for This Moth
If only they had bigger appetites. The Ailanthus Webworm thinks Tree of Heaven is delicious, but the caterpillars have such tiny mouths. They also roll up leaves of this tree to create their protective cocoons, much like other web worms that are more conspicuous.
I bet you’ve seen this oddly-patterned tube of a creature on a goldenrod or (like this one) wingstem this time of year. They have been in the US as natives only to Florida, but the South American contingent seems to have migrated north as the invasive Ailanthus also moves inexorably north, taking over forest clearings once inhabited by native tree species.
This is an odd moth, active by day, and with its strange and colorful pattern, you might jump to the conclusion that it was some kind of beetle.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why, 45 years after my one entomology class at Auburn, I still recall that this insect belongs to the family Yponomeutidae. Seems like those synapses from 1969 could have been used for some more practical factoid like the name of that gal in my Ent class that kept bugging me to go to Peeps after class for a beer. If that had been on the test, I would have remembered.