grapeleaf skeletonizer

(Harrisina americana)

grapeleaf skeletonizer
Photo by Greg Watson
  Hodges #

4624

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

 
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

 
  Minnesota

not listed

 
           
 
Description
 
 

Grapeleaf skeletonizer is a small, common, and widespread moth. It occurs in the United States east of the Great Plains, in southern Ontario and Quebec Canada, and in Mexico. It is common in the eastern United States. It is less common in the southeast quarter of Minnesota, where it is at the northwestern extent of its range, and is absent from the remainder of the state. Larvae are found in fields and at woodland edges. They feed on the leaves of grape and Virginia creeper, and in other parts of its range also on redbud and peppervine. Adults live only a few days. They are found in fields, where they feed on the nectar of flowers.

Adults are black, are to (10 to 15 mm) in length, and have a 1116 to 1 (18 to 28 mm) wingspan. They look similar to yellow-collared scape moth but are smaller.

The head is black. The antennae on both sexes are black and feather-like (pectinate), with branches on just one side of most segments.

The thorax is black. Bright, reddish-orange scales on the first segment of the thorax (prothorax) form a broad collar that extends down the sides. The rear margin of the collar is straight across.

The abdomen is long and black. There is a prominent tuft of hair-like scales at the tip. The abdomen is usually held curled upwards.

The forewings are long, narrow, entirely black, and semi-translucent. The hindwings are much smaller.

The mature caterpillar is stout and up to (1.5 cm) long. The head is partially covered by a fleshy extension of the thorax. The thorax and abdomen are bright yellow. There is a broad black stripe on each side in the subdorsal area, a black band on each abdominal segment, and matching black bands on the thorax. Each black band is armed with tufts of short, shiny, black, stiff hairs (setae). The sides of the abdomen are waxy white. Four long white setae extend forward from the front of the thorax, and four more extend backward from the end of the abdomen. Early instar caterpillars are yellow with just two black spots on each abdominal segment. Middle instars have a band of six black spots on each segment. Final instars have a solid black band on each segment.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: to (10 to 15 mm)

Wingspan: 1116 to 1 (18 to 28 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) is larger.

Virginia ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica) is much larger. The wings are grayish brown with an iridescent metallic blue base and at least some white in the fringe. There is no tuft at the tip of the abdomen.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Fields and woodland edges

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

One generation per year in Minnesota: April to October

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Adults are active both day and night and will come to light.

Early stage (instar) caterpillars feed side-by-side and tightly spaced, forming a solid mass, always on the underside of leaves. Later instars feed in small groups. Final instar caterpillars are solitary feeders.

The larvae produce hydrogen cyanide, making them poisonous. Their bright coloration is thought to be a warning to potential predators.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Lemon yellow eggs are lain in a cluster on the underside of a host leaf.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Grape (Vitis spp.) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocisis spp.) in Minnesota, and redbud (Cercis spp.) and peppervine (Ampelopsis spp.) elsewhere

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

21, 24, 29, 30, 72, 75, 82.

 
  9/9/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Fairly common in southeast Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Zygaenoidea (flannel, slug caterpillar, leaf skeletonizer, and allied moths)  
 

Family

Zygaenidae (burnet moths)  
 

Subfamily

Procridinae (forester moths)  
 

Tribe

Procridini  
 

Genus

Harrisina  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

grapeleaf skeletonizer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Collar

In grasses: The area on the back of a grass leaf at the junction of the sheath and the blade. In moths: the array of scales on the dorsal part of the prothorax.

 

Instar

The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.

 

Prothorax

The first (forward) segment of the thorax on an insect, bearing the first pair of legs but not wings.

 

Seta

A stiff, hair-like process on the outer surface of an organism. In Lepidoptera: A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth used to sense touch. In mosses: The stalk supporting a spore-bearing capsule and supplying it with nutrients. Plural: setae.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Greg Watson

 
 

The entire time I observed it, it never folded its wings in and the abdomen was curled upwards. From what I have read on the internet, these are common traits distinguishing it from the Yellow Collared Scape moth.

  grapeleaf skeletonizer  
           
        grapeleaf skeletonizer  
           
 
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Other Videos
 
  Capital Naturalist: Grapeleaf Skeletonizer
Capital Naturalist
 
   
 
About

Nov 19, 2019

A Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Moth (Harrisina Americana) on Goldenrod.

 
  Friend Foe Neutral Series #2 - Grapeleaf Skeletonizers
Fairfield Garden
 
   
 
About

May 21, 2020

Grapeleaf Skeletonizer (Harrisina americana) in my zone 9a garden. Spray soapy water on adult moth, eggs and larvae plus removing infested leaves. Use gloves to avoid contact with their poisonous toxin.

 
  Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Moth (Harrisina americana)
Joseph Despins
 
   
 
About

Jul 5, 2020

This is a short video showing Harrisina americana moth (common name Grapeleaf Skeletonizer) moving about on leaves in the morning glory garden. Location - New Castle County, Delaware USA.

 
  Grapeleaf Skeletonizer, Harrisina americana, Maryland, 6/27/11
metapathogen
 
   
 
About

Oct 7, 2012

Grapeleaf Skeletonizer, Harrisina americana, Maryland, 6/27/11
DSCN3123.MOV

 
       

 

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  Greg Watson
7/9/2021

Location: in my backyard in La Crescent, MN.

The entire time I observed it, it never folded its wings in and the abdomen was curled upwards. From what I have read on the internet, these are common traits distinguishing it from the Yellow Collared Scape moth.

grapeleaf skeletonizer

 
           
 
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Created: 9/9/2021

Last Updated:

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