Moth identification is
a challenge to most of us. With so many species, relatively few
references, and limited space in printed references, coming up empty in
an identification attempt is to be expected often. If the difficulty in
identifying native moths isn't bad enough, the specter of introduced
species, likely candidates to be left out of printed references, makes
things even more challenging. This page attempts to bring together the
exotic moths of eastern
. The introduction of some of these species
occurred long ago and these moths are well known. Some of the species
shown here may have been introduced recently enough to have been omitted
from the best known field guide, Charles Covell's A Field Guide to Moths
of Eastern North America (1984), but have had enough time to become
widespread and common. A few of the moths shown here are not as well
known, perhaps still expanding their range. Of course, it should be
expected that new species will continue to find their way to our
continent. Included on this page are two species that, as far as I have
been able to deduce so far, have only been seen by me. Efforts are being
made to have them identified.
Covell, Charles, 1984, A Field Guide to the Moths of Eastern North
America, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Rings, Roy W., Eric H. Metzler, Fred J. Arnold, and David Harris, 1992,
The Owlet Moths of Ohio, Columbus: College of Biological Studies, The Ohio
Wagner, David L., Douglas C. Ferguson, Timothy L. McCabe and Richard C.
Reardon, 2001, Geometrid Caterpillars of Northeastern and Appalachian
Forests, United States Department of Agriculture.
Some of the narratives on this page are reprinted with permission of the
authors as indicated.
Silkmoth 7/18/01 Queens co. NY © Steve Walter
7/5/03 Litchfield co. CT © Steve Walter
Samia Cynthia, the
Ailanthus Silkmoth, was introduced around 1860 into
as a possible silk producer. Released
deliberately, it became established primarily in urban areas where
tree-of-heaven grows, spreading from Massachuestts to Georgia
and west to Indiana
(Covell). It has apparently declined in New York
in recent years.
Zeuzera pyrina, the
Leopard Moth, is a member of the carpenterworm family Cossidae
(technically, micro moths) (and not to
be confused with the native Giant Leopard Moth of the Arctidae). It was
before 1879 but is only established from
Lymantria dispar, the
infamous Gypsy Moth, was deliberately introduced from Europe at
in 1868 or 1869 by Leopold Trouvelot, who
hoped to raise this moth for silk production. Unfortunately, some of his
moths escaped. By 1889 the Gypsy Moth was doing heavy damage in parts of
area (Covell). It subsequently expanded
its range and became a major pest.
Moth, male, 7/12/00 Queens co. NY © Steve Walter
7/22/01 Westchester co. NY © Steve Walter
6/23/03 Kings co. NY © Steve Walter
Moth 7/17/03 Castine, ME © Hugh McGuinness
Moth 7/19/03 Castine, ME © Hugh McGuinness
Euproctis chrysorrhea, or Brown Longtail,
was discovered in Massachusetts
in 1897 and at one time ranged from Nova Scotia to Rhode Island.
This European introduction is now apparently confined to seashore habitats
on islands in Casco Bay, ME, and Cape
Cod, occasionally turning up in other parts of
Noctua pronuba, the U.K.’s Large
Yellow Underwing, has become common and well known. The first known
Connecticut record was taken by Jon Truern-Trend in
Tolland County 21 August 1993. The fore wing pattern and color of
this moth is highly variable, as seen in the photos above and below,
but its size and shape make it easy to recognize.
Kings co. NY © Steve Walter
8/8/01 Queens co. NY © Steve Walter
lutosa, called Large Wainscot in
the U.K., is a late season species. It is reported to feed on common
reed (Phragmites), so not surprisingly has become regular in the
Jamaica Bay area of western Long Island.
Anomis commoda, which
I’ll call Ruddy Scallop Moth for now, was reported by Forbes to occur in
Japan, “from which it was presumably
introduced”. No other details were given.
There is some speculation that Scoliopteryx libatrix, or The Herald, is
7/11/02 Nassau co. NY © Steve Walter
8/26/03 Kings co. NY © Steve Walter
7/18/03 Westchester co. NY © Steve Walter
known in Great Britian as Toadflax Brocade, was introduced into
in 1968 as a control for the butter and
eggs plant (Ohio). It is now common in
(Handfield, 1999) and found in the New York City
Chloroclystis rectangulata, or Green Pug, was first collected in Nova Scotia in 1970 and
is now established throughout southeastern Canada and the Northeast, and
is spreading rapidly westward and southward (Wagner, 2001).
called Dotted Wave or Single-dotted Wave, is a European species now
established in the
Pacific Northwest, southeastern Canada, and
(Wagner, 2001). It is now common in the New York City
6/10/02 Queens co. NY © Steve Walter
6/24/02 Nassau co. NY © Steve Walter
6/23/03 Kings co. NY © Steve Walter
called the Waved Black in the U.K., was first found in
in the late 1970’s by Franclemont
(LaFontaine, pers. comm.). Several records have been obtained by me on
The two species below are the latest
to be discovered in North America.
Oligia latruncula, called Tawny
Marbled Minor in the U.K., has been found by Steve Walter to be common on
western Long Island. Several individuals a night may be seen at the
peak of its flight in June. To date, it has not been reported
Niphonyx segregata is apparently an
Asian species. It was found by Steve Walter twice in Queens County,
N.Y. in 2001 and once in 2002 to the north of New York City in
Westchester County. It is now reported by Dale Schweitzer to be a
common summer species at bait in northern Delaware and Cumberland
County in southern New Jersey.
6/11/02 Nassau co. NY © Steve Walter
6/28/01 Queens co. NY © Steve Walter