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Oak leaf moth - Phyllodesma - female

Oak leaf moth - Phyllodesma - Female
Marin County, California, USA
January 26, 2010
Size: 22 mm length
This weird moth was discovered on a window screen this morning. At first I assumed it was just an oak leaf that got blown onto the screen and got stuck, but I did a closer inspection once I noticed how strangely symmetrical it was. I was thinking it's in the family Noctuidae at first, but browsing the guide I see there are tons of unusually-shaped non-Noctuid moths as well.

Images of this individual: tag all
Oak leaf moth - Phyllodesma - female Oak leaf moth - Phyllodesma - female

The moth laid some eggs!
The insect laid four eggs in the container today. How do I know if they are fertilized or not? If they are fertilized, how long does it take for the larvae to hatch and what do they eat?

How exciting!
I'm afraid I really don't know anything about how to care for moth eggs. If you can't find the info you need via researching on the Internet, I would highly recommend that you post your questions (along with a thumbnail link to the egg post) as a topic in the General Discussion forum. More people are likely to respond that way.

As Bob mentioned, this may or may not be Phyllodesma americana, but it's possible that perhaps the information on that guide page would be useful regarding what the larvae eat. It states:

Caterpillars feed on leaves of alder, birch, oak, poplar, willow, snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus), chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), and members of the rose family

Of course, I think the biggest hurdle is definitely going to be getting the eggs to hatch in the first place. Good luck!

Thank you!
If the eggs end up hatching, I'll try those plants. The only problem is that since it's the middle of winter, most of those trees don't have leaves yet. There are some evergreen oak trees in my yard, but their leaves are very tough and waxy compared to the deciduous ones. I have some roses in my yard that have leaves, but I don't know if the caterpillars would eat those.

Moved from Moths.

Hmm...Very cool find, Natalie! Hopefully one of our experts will comment soon as I'm really not that great with moths, but my guess would be possibly something in this genus (Family Lasiocampidae).

Re: Phyllodesma?
That looks like a match, thanks! I still have the moth, so if there are any distinguishing features that need to be photographed I should be able to do that. This is the first January record on here for the genus... I wonder why this one emerged so early.

Need Genitalia or DNA
Two species, Phyllodesma american and P. coturnix are sympatric in California and cannot, according to Powell & Opler, be distinguished by superficial characters. (no rsvp, thanks)

Thanks for the info...
I'll bring it to my entomology professor and see if I can get it preserved so I can look at it under a microscope.

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