Can anyone ID this moth?

patsi(z7-S.Jersey)August 27, 2008

Is this a male gypsy moth ?

Pic below is not in our backyard but on our way south on the garden state parkway

we did see several hundred nests in just one five mile stretch.

It seems NJ doesn't have the money in the budget this year to spray for gypsy moths.

Gypsy moths have been in New Jersey since the 1920s, and their destruction peaking in 1981,

with 800,000 acres defoliated. I remember that year.

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Still don't know what kind of moth this is BUT the webs are NOT what I thought.
They're fall webworm which is similar to eastern tent caterpillar in that it creates conspicuous silk tents in trees, but differs in that it always places the tent on the end of the branch.

Yes, I've answered my own question. :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 12:11PM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

It looks like a skipper. I bet somebody on the butterfly forum will be able to tell you which kind.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW Butterfly Gardening

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 2:45PM
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I seem to recall hearing/reading that, generally, a moth folds its wings down along its back while at rest, but a butterfly folds them upwards, as in your photo. Don't know whether that's entomoligally correct or just folklore.

I, too, recall 1981. That was the year our neighborhood was to be sprayed with a broad-spectrum chemical pesticide for gypsy moths. I hope you'll bear with me for the following:

Pregnant with my second child, and reading disconcerting reports in the newspaper, I began to research the issue, tapping some very well-educated and reliable sources on the state and national level. The more I learned, the more strongly I felt that the use of broad-spectrum chemical pesticides was environmentally and fiscally unsound, often driven by political forces. My concerns over health effects for my family were somewhat mitigated, and I was about to just leave my home for the duration of the spraying and a short period thereafter ... but at the last minute my husband and I decided we should not have to leave our home and we submitted a request, per regulations, to have our property omitted from the spray block.

On the day of spraying, my parents happened to be here for a visit. County vehicles with yellow flashing lights on top were stationed at all four corners of our large block, with radio-equipped personel stading alongside. Curious neighbors were advised that Mrs. A., at (address), had requested her property be omitted from the spray block, so they were talking the pilot clear of the area. Needless to say, people were incensed. My dad was outside where a group of people were talking - they didn't know him or who he was - and someone commented (I'll never forget this) "Well, now you know why some people get their houses burned down."

You should know I live in an area of supposedly educated, decent people.

Within days of the spraying, I noticed dead and dying gypsy moth caterpillars all over my property. Curious about what had happened, thinking perhaps it was due to spray drift, I called one of my resources in the State ... and entomologist ... and was advised that the specific symptoms I was reporting indicated a natural collapse from a disease specific to the gypsy moth. I subsequently confirmed that through other sources - the upside down "V" in which the caterpillar hangs from the tree is quite distinctive and not from chemical poinsoning. When I asked if the spraying might have hastened the collapse, he said it was quite unlikely, if anything, chemical applications tend to delay natural collapse.

There was no spraying the following year.

In 1983, our area, hundreds of acres, was scheduled for spraying again, even though there were few caterpillars, moths or egg masses observed by residents. I wasn't going to touch this with a proverbial 10-foot pole, after what I went through the last time, but, yielding to persistent questioning by some now-concerned friends and neighbors as to the reason for this, I again contacted my sources at the state level. After much dancing around with local officials (who didn't want a re-survey), the state came out and did a re-survey of the area. The number of viable egg masses found was drastically lower than initially reported and the area was deleted from the state spray program. The newspaper reported (falsely) that the 400+ acres had been deleted from the state program at my request ... and gave my full name and address!

The public, however was beginning to wake up, and when a township truck, manned with staff not certified for pesticide application, wound up on the wrong street, spraying children and adults at an outdoor party, the stuff hit the fan and there was outcry at a public township committee meeting. I went to see/hear, but didn't speak ... there was no need ... all I could have said was "I told you so."

We have not had a significant gypsy moth infestation in our area since 1981. I have seen clear and consistent evidence of a population controlled by disease, parasitism and predation. Native insects, spiders, rodents and birds have learned to incorporate this new food into their diets; imported parasites have become established; diseases that decimate higher populations are present. The use of broad-spectrum chemical pesticides destroys this delicate balance.

I and a small but determined and well-informed group of citizens worked to bring the state of New Jersey up to date with the rest of the northeast* and rely on biological controls like Bt. Even after the state had abandoned synthetic chemicals, it took another five years to convince my county leaders to follow suit. (*For four consecutive years I attended the annual National Gypsy Moth Review hosted by the National Gypsy Moth Management Board and attended by researchers, applicators, pesticide manufacturer reps ... and one housewife - me :-) At the second, I was invited to join the NGMMB and was subsequently asked by the USDA to present the environmental viewpoint at the Northeastern Forest Pest Work Conference.)

I realize that peak infestations can cause severe defoliation, inconvenience and even loss of trees if they are repeatedly heavily defoliated, but I feel the state is wise in exercising restraint with respect to pesticide applications. A better understanding of this pest and sound methods of controlling it can help us to better understand the dynamics at work in nature and work with, rather than against, them.

If you have stayed with me though all this, I sincerely thank you. If you will take up the torch, or have already done so, to educate yourself and others so we can address these problems reasonably, rather than out of fear and misinformation, then words cannot express my gratitude ... and hope for the future.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 11:31PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Patsi, about 3 weeks ago I spotted a web spread over ends of about 4 branches of a birch tree...just as shown in your photo.

I didn't know what it was but it was going once I got the ladder and extension pruner. Luckily it was in reach between those two items.

Having fallen from ladders more than once (not most coordinated person in NJ) I made sure I had my cell phone in my shorts pocket "just in case" but all went well. :)

Once I dragged whole mess onto driveway you should have seen those little buggers scurrying around and me stomping on them as if I were doing the Jitterbug, which I guess I was...LOL. Threw whole lot, branches and all, into plastic bag and trash can.

Our birds seem too well fed by us to be much use in going after food nature provides even though I know they supposedly only get about 25% of their diet from human provided feeders.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 12:45PM
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All animals have their defenses ... even the caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly has red-orange horn-like organs (osmeterium) that pop out when it is disturbed, and as if that isn't enough, they stink, too!! (the horns, not the butterfly)

The tent caterpillars and fall webworms have their tents. They usually stay inside them for protection during the day, venturing out to feed only at night, when the birds are inactive. Simply taking a long stick or something to tear open that "nest" will deprive them of their shelter and let the birds have at them.

Many birds supposedly didn't eat the GM caterpillars because of the prickly hairs. But eventually I obsered several species of birds that would hold the caterpillar in their beak and beat it against a fence rail or branch to remove most of those hairs before swallowing it.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 12:26AM
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newbirdman(7 b NJ)

No , its not a Gypsy moth . Its a butterfly , a Skipper. Moths basically only fly at night , butterflies in the day time . Also , look at the antenna , moths have a feather type antenna , butterlfies have a small club at the tip as seen in the picture. Rick

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 6:44PM
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