Friday, February 26, 2016

Ragweed Flower Moth

The Ragweed Flower Moth (Schinia rivulosa) is found throughout much of the United States and parts of Canada. They are common where Ragwood is prolific, and anyone who is familiar with ragweed knows, once its established it quickly becomes prolific and wrecks havoc on those with allergies. I find it funny that the genus name for ragweed is Ambrosia, as in "food of the gods" Ragweed is an awful plant that resists all attempts to control it. I'd say that is anything but god-like, in fact one could argue that it is downright evil! Fortunately I am not an allergy sufferer, but I can't help but feel sympathy for those that are.

These moths are usually greenish in color, but can be brown, tan, yellow or even black. There are distinct white lines surrounding darker blotches on both the hindwing and forewing. They are small with a wingspan up to 1.3 inches. The female deposits eggs on or near ragweed and the caterpillars will feed on various parts of the plants, and seem especially fond of the seeds. I'd say these little munchers are every allergy sufferers friend as they help control the spread of this plant to some degree. When the caterpillars are disturbed or feel threatened they will fall from the plant and curl themselves into a tight ball. This would make them virtually impossible to see among leaf litter or weeds.

Adults probably nectar at flowers, but I could not find anything to substantiate that. Adults are frequently found among ragweed and are more active at night. You might also find them at porch lights or other light sources at night.


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