The Rosy Maple Moth

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The rosy maple moth is a variety of moth that inhabits much of North America and makes its home on a variety of maple-tree species. Although quite beautiful to look at, with its striped bands of pink and yellow coloring, they can become pests in some areas, leading to significant damage of their host plants.

Range and Habitat

  • The rosy maple moth typically inhabits deciduous forests in several parts of North America, ranging from Nova Scotia and other parts of the north (including Ontario and Quebec in Canada, and Minnesota in the United States). However, it also ranges as far south as Florida, the Gulf Coast and Texas.

Life Cycle

  • The male and female moths emerge during the evening and mate, and the female then deposits a cluster of 20 to 30 eggs on the undersides of the host plant's leaves. The incubation period can last up to two weeks. For some time after hatching, the larvae will congregate with one another, but they become more solitary as they mature. They can grow up to 55 mm long and have very strong mandibles (chewing parts). Although in the northern parts of its range it typically produces two broods during a typical summer (from late May until August), south of the Carolinas two to three broods can occur; the moths can present from January through October in this region. However, it can also disappear for long periods of time before emerging and infesting the trees again. The caterpillars overwinter in shallow chambers in the ground.

Control

  • Although these moths do not typically kill trees, there are a number of control methods available for those who want to take extra precautions. If you do not want to use pesticides, target the caterpillars while they're still on the underside of the leaves, knocking them off and disposing of them. There are, though, a number of pesticides available, and the DNR recommends the use of Bt, a type of control that you can usually find at home and garden stores. You can also use a contact insecticide, but ensure you follow the instructions on the label.

Host Plants

  • The rosy maple moth feeds on a large variety of maple-tree species, including red, sugar and silver maples, as well as oak trees such as turkey, scarlet, black and water oaks. In addition, they also target other species, including the American beech and the butternut.

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