Ailanthus Webworm Moth

By William T. Hathaway
Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Attiva punctella)

This little moth has a wingspan which at the most is just 3 cm. I recollect of having to rest my hands on the table in order to keep my fingers still enough to mount the moth and spread its wings.

I collected this specimen that was amongst many congregating on the leaves of an ailanthus tree. Obviously these moths had just transformed from the larvae stage which fed on ailanthus leaves. The larvae of the ailanthus webworm live in communal webs. In the natural adult stage these moths have their wings rolled up in cigar shape, and this makes them less visible to the human eye.

This photo was made on the property of the Tomahawk Mill Winery in the west-central part of Pittsylvania County; the month was August. All I can say as to the year is…it was about thirty years ago, before the old mill became a winery.

Also see this illustration in larger format.