Atriplex Casebearer

Coleophora atriplicivora ?

Saltbush Casebearer moth, Coleophora atriplicivora, photo © by Mike Plagens

This moth was reared from the larva stage on leaves of Allscale Saltbush -- Atriplex polycarpa. The larva was found on 9 Feb. 2014 and the adult moth emerged 12 March 2014. Found at Arlington, Maricopa Co., Arizona. The adult moth is perched with its wings folded tight upon the plant stem. Pointing downward is the empty silken case that held the minute caterpillar during its development.

Coleophoridae -- Case-Bearer Moth Family

Many insects that make a living on plants must play a deadly game of hide-and-seek with the birds that are keen-sighted and very hungry for a meal. The larva, pupa and adult of this casebearer moth are all well-concealed. As a very small larva, this moth tunnels inside a leaf. Once it has grown too big for this narrow space it spins a silken case with only its head emerging to chew the plant leaves. The case is much the same color and texture as a brown leaf. The adult moth looks like a sliver of peeling stem bark and can rest mostly undisturbed on the branch stems. The full grown moth is but 3 mm long normally going unnoticed by most human observers.



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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 23 March 2014.