Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
, 1857). Taxonomic notes:
This moth belongs to a species complex that was recently split; see Wilson 2010 in references.
Deiopeia aurea Fitch, 1857 = Atteva aurea is the proper name for the North American temperate forest moths
Tinea pustulella Fabricius = Atteva pustulella is now restricted to the tropical rainforest species
Phalaena Tinea punctella Stoll, 1781 = Atteva punctella was commonly used for this species but was never valid because it was a junior homonym of Phalaena puntcella Linnaeus. It also refers to the tropical species.
Authorship of P. punctella
is sometimes listed as Cramer
, 1781. Cramer died before his description was officially published.
Explanation of Names
Aurea means golden.
Former species name punctella
is from Latin punct
a sting or prick, plus suffix ella
, referring to spots on wings.
The only species in this genus in North America listed at All-Leps. There may be a different species in southern Florida, Atteva floridana.
Adult: forewing orange with several large black and white rosettes with some variability which has led to many different names (2)
. Covell notes that the Florida population has smaller spots and was previously considered a separate species (Atteva floridana
. Hindwing translucent black. The bright pattern of the forewings is likely aposematic
in this subfamily (Kristensen, 1999).
e NA to s CA / Mex. to C. Amer. / W. Indies - Map
Larvae are found in webs in Ailanthus
. Adults found taking nectar from flowers.
mostly April to Nov, but longer in coastal states (MPG
Adults take nectar of flowers in old-field habitats. Larvae feed on leaves of Ailanthus
and paradise trees (3)
and other deciduous trees and shrubs (4)
The Natural History Museum (HOSTS
) lists, in addition to Ailanthus altissima
: Castela emoryi
, Persea americana
, and Simarouba glauca
Buguide contributors have reported it on sumac
Larvae live in communal webs (3)
. Several generations a year depending on region. It can complete the entire life cycle in 4 weeks. Larvae can be found from mid-spring to a hard freeze. The main larval food plant (Ailanthus altissima
) is also known as Tree of Heaven
, Stinking Sumac, Copal Tree, or Varnish Tree, and occurs throughout most of United States and southern Canada, often planted as an ornamental in urban areas. The tree is native to Asia, and is an invasive species in North America, but the moth is native, and its range has increased, presumably, since the introduction of the tree.
1 and 2. Caterpillars. 3. Pupa
Thought to be native to South Florida and the American tropics (south to Costa Rica), which were the habitat of its original larval host plants: the paradise tree (Simarouba glauca
) and Simarouba amara
. It started moving north around the 1850s when introduced Ailanthus altissima
contacted the moth's native range.(5)
At first sight, this species is often mistaken for a beetle because of its bright colors and habit of visiting flowers in the daytime.
Compare Atteva aurea (left) with its mimic (right)
Arnett, page 677, with a black and white photograph (figure 27.48) (2)
Borror, entries for punct
, ella (1)
Brou, V.A., 2002. Variations in Atteva aurea and Hyparpax aurora in Louisiana. Southern Lepidopterists' News
24: 2, insert C.(6)
Covell, page 431, color plate 61 (#13) and B&W plate 62 (#5) (3)
Kristensen (1999). Handbook of Zoology--Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies vol. 1: 122 GoogleBooks
Wilson, J.J. et al, "Identity of the ailanthus webworm moth (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae), a complex of two species: evidence from DNA barcoding, morphology and ecology." ZooKeys Article
- Butterflies and Moths of the World