The Fall Webworm - "Hyphantria Cunea"

Hello lovely Hiveans !


Today I have another entry for the Insects Of The World Community. This post is concerned with another MIGRATING INSECT species that was brought to Western Europe all the way from America. I already identified the West Virginia White Butterfly (Pieris Virginiensis) that originates from Northern America ... This time I spotted and identified the Fall Webworm (Hyphantria Cunea) that originates from Northern and Central America.

Scientific Classification of Hyphantria Cunea:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera - Butterflies and Moths (~ 180 Thousand Species!)
  • Family: Erebidae - Only Moths (~ 70 Thousand Species)
  • Genus: Hyphantria
  • Species: Hyphantria Cunea

Distribution of the Moth:

I was quite surprising to find the West Virginia White Butterfly here in Germany and assumed that it was shipped in from Northern America and subsequently started to populate in Western Europe. But I am not surprising to see another migrating species now anymore. I believe that this is a direct consequence of globalization, as a lot of cargo is transported daily over the ocean .. and it just need one little webworm in a box of avocados to do the trick 😁 .. After a little research I even found that this species was already spotted in many places all over Europe.

  • Places of spread: North and Central America; from Canada to Mexico - (also Europe now ^^)

The Web of the Hyphantria Cunea:

To repopulate, the adult female moth chooses big leaves on bushes or trees. Thereby the moth lays its eggs on the underside of the leaves, and covers them with big clusters of her abdomen hair. This is usually done from May to July, but varies depending on the climate of the region. When the caterpillars are finally hatching, they consequently have a lot of hair on their body. Upon crawling around they are then forming the big web structures that can be easily detected with the eye. Compared to the webs that are created by other moth species, such as the tent caterpillars, the webs of the webworm caterpillars look quite unstructured, messy and are spanning over quite large areas .. The next three pictures show you the webs that I pictured in some big bushes along the street that I am living at.

The Hyphantria Cunea initially create big clusters, made from hair, that are located throughout the whole leaf structure.

In the end, the webs look quite unstructured, messy and spanning over large area up to 30 cm.

The Hyphantria Cunea caterpillars stay inside their webs and feed from the leafs until they are fully grown.

Appearance of the Webworms:

The caterpillars posses quits a range of possible colors. These can start with a pale yellow up to an dark grey color. In addition they have a long and darker stripe on each side of their body and two rows of black spots on their body. Thereby the caterpillars reach a length between 30 mm to 35 mm.

The color of the The Hyphantria Cunea caterpillars ranges from a pale yellow to dark grey color.

The caterpillars have darker stripe on their side, two rows of black spots on their body and reach a length up to 35 mm.

  • Size: Total length up to 35 mm
  • Color: Pale yellow to grey bodies
  • Others: Dark stripes on the side and black spots on the body

The Hyphantria Cunea Moth:

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of the actual Hyphantria Cunea moth, but I was so lucky that @nelinoeva once published a post of this exact moth 🤗. I asked here and she allowed me to use her picture withing my post here. You can find her post here ... Thank you very much @nelinoeva !!!

The Hyphantria Cunea moth has a wing-length between 25 mm to 40 mm. Thereby the female moths are the larger ones. The whole moth, including the head, thorax and abdomen are snow white and silky. The wings are also white and can be either completely white, or possess small black dots, as in this picture, up to even large black stains. The antennae of the males are fimbriate and of the females are filiform and slightly saw-toothed.

The Hyphantria Cunea moth has a wing-length up to 40 mm. The whole moth is snow white and has small black dots on the wings.

The antennae of the male moth are fimbriate and of the female moth are filiform and slightly saw-toothed.

  • Size: Wings-length between 25-35 mm (male) & 30-40 mm (female)
  • Head, Thorax & Abdomen: White and silky
  • Wings: From plain white up to white with small or large black dots
  • Antenna: Fimbriate (male) or filiform (female)

Diet of the Catterpillar and Moth:

The Catterpillars are eating up the leafs at the location that they are hatching at. Thereby they cover over more than 100 different tree and shrub species. This is a quite practical approach, as they are born directly in their pantry ^^ hen it comes to the diet of the adult moth, it becomes really interesting. Also moths are notorious for eating clothing, adult moths are known for not eating at all or in very rare occasions. Some species, like the Luna, Polyphemus, Atlas, Promethea, and Cecropia do not even posses any mouth parts !

  • Catterpillar: Leafs where they are hatching on (~100 species of trees and bushes)
  • Moth: No Diet

Date and Location of the Discovery:

The Webworm Caterpillars were found on 13th May 2021 in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The Hyphantria Cunea Moth was found in July 2019 in Bulgaria.

Thank You Very Much !

Thank you very much for taking the time to read about my find ^^ .. This is actually the second migrating species of order of Lepidoptera that I personally witnessed that made its way from America to Europe .. I also want to thank @lourdeshd6, @nicanor-mosquera and, the great team of the Insects Of The World Community for creating this great place for insect lovers and their constant engagement and great communication with its members 😁 .. Special thanks go to @nelinoeva, who supported my post with her great pictures of the moth and for her amazing work as a zoology curator in the Amazing Nature Community 🤗

The pictures were taken by myself, ©@adalger, with a Huawei P30 Mobile Phone. The pictures of the moth were provided by @nelinoeva and published in one of her prior posts. For information gathering I used some articles about the webworm Wikipedia and moths in general on Wikipedia, as well as and article from Nature Foundation and Thoughtco.

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Best wishes,

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