Clearwing Borers Sesiidae

Clearwing Borers Sesiidae


Small to medium sized moths similar in appearance to hornets and wasps. Forewings are long and narrow, hindwings are short and wide. Hindwings are transparent or see-through with veins showing. Quite a few of them also have the front wings transparent. Antenna are long, usually reaching past mid abdomen, tips slightly curved and pointed. Most antenna are black, some have a white section before the black tip and one or two have orange antenna. Male antenna are pectinate or serrated (saw-like). Abdomens are various coloured white, yellow or orange.

These day-flying moths lay their eggs on damaged roots, stems and tree trunks, shrubs and can also use perennials and tree galls. One generation a year.

In Ontario we have 36 species, 1 possible, and 1 extinct species:

Albuna fraxini Virginia Creeper Clearwing
Albuna pyramidalis Fireweed Clearwing
Alcathoe caudata Clematis Clearwing
Carmenta anthracipennis Blazingstar Clearwing
Carmenta bassiformis Ironweed Clearwing
Carmenta corni Aster Clearwing
Carmenta ithacae Oxeye Clearwing – Possible, but not present in Ontario
Carmenta pyralidiformis Boneset Clearwing
Chamaesphecia empiformis European Euphorbia Clearwing – 1 from Hastings County in 2015.
Melittia cucurbitae Squash Vine Clearwing
Synanthedon acerni Maple Callus Clearwing
Synanthedon acerrubri Red Maple Clearwing
Synanthedon bolteri Northern Willow Clearwing
Synanthedon castaneae Chestnut Clearwing – extinct
Synanthedon decipiens Oak Gall Clearwing
Synanthedon exitiosa Peachtree Clearwing
Synanthedon fatifera Arrowwood Clearwing
Synanthedon fulvipes Birch Clearwing
Synanthedon helenis – only in Ontario along Manitoba border
Synanthedon myopaeformis Apple Clearwing
Synanthedon pictipes Lesser Peachtree Clearwing
Synanthedon pini Pitch Mass Clearwing (Pine)
Synanthedon proxima Eastern Willow Clearwing
Synanthedon pyri Apple Bark Clearwing
Synanthedon rubrofascia Black Gum Clearwing
Synanthedon scitula Dogwood Clearwing
Synanthedon tipuliformis Currant Clearwing

Rare, hornet-like (Yellowjacket) with solid yellow stripes on abdomen:
Paranthrene asilipennis Oak Clearwing – 1 specimen at Royal Ontario Museum only record
Paranthrene dollii Poplar Clearwing  – 1 specimen from Lambton County.
Paranthrene pellucida Pin Oak Clearwing
Paranthrene simulans Red Oak Clearwing
Paranthrene tabaniformis European Poplar Clearwing
Pennisetia marginatum Raspberry Crown Clearwing
Podosesia aureocincta Banded Ash Clearwing
Podosesia syringae Lilac Clearwing – reddish head & antenna (black abdomen, no stripes)
Sesia apiformis European Hornet Clearwing (Poplar)
Sesia tibiale American Hornet Clearwing (Poplar & Willow)
Vitacea polistiformis Grape Root Clearwing

Quick ID Clearwing Borers Sesiidae

Quick ID Clearwing Borers Sesiidae
Albuna, Alcathoe, Carmenta, Synanthedon

Four sections:

  1. Solid colored front wings
  2. Red/orange abdomen tuft
  3. White stripe on antenna
  4. All black antenna

Some can fit in more than one category, so use categories in top-down order. Some have male and female different (dimorphic) and may be in 2 different categories.
m & f  = male and female.

Solid Colored Front Wings:
Alcathoe caudata – (m & f) reddish wings, entirely orange antenna and feet; male has long tail

Albuna fraxini – (f) front wing black with a red spot; white stripe on antenna; front legs black, thick fur, feet yellow

Carmenta anthracipennis – (m & f) front wing with a yellow spot; abdomen striped; antenna all black

Carmenta pyralidiformis – (m & f) abdomen segment 4 entirely yellow; yellow stripes on thorax; similar to S. exitiosa female

Synanthedon exitiosa – (f) abdomen segment 4 entirely reddish-orange; no thorax stripes; similar to C. pyralidiformis

Synanthedon pini – (m & f) abdomen sides orange; segment 4 orange; abdomen tuft mostly orange

Synanthedon rubrofascia – (f) abdomen segments 4 and 5 bright reddish-orange

Red/Orange Abdomen Tuft:
Synanthedon acerni – (m & f) antenna entirely black; wing tip area yellow tinted

Synanthedon acerrubri – (m & f) white stripe on antenna; wing tip area black; some black on head; similar to C. corni female

Carmenta corni – (m & f) white stripe on antenna; wing tip area yellow; orange head; male abdomen tip black with orange at sides, usually divided; female similar to S. acerrubri 

White Stripe on Antenna:
Albuna fraxini – (m) antenna, except tips almost entirely white to yellow; front legs have black, thick fur, front feet yellow

Carmenta bassiformis – (m & f) all abdomen segments striped

Synanthedon pyri – (m & f) abdomen every other segment striped, yellow down sides; white stripe on antenna long, ½ length of antenna; similar to C. ithacae which is not in Ontario yet

Carmenta ithacae – (m & f) abdomen every other segment striped, yellow down sides; white stripe on antenna short, ¼ length of antenna; similar to S. pyri – possible in Ontario

Synanthedon bolteri – (m & f) abdomen segments 4 & 5 red; wing margin red

Synanthedon fatifera – (m & f) abdomen black; white spot at sides of 1 and 4

Synanthedon proxima – (m & f) abdomen entirely black; white antenna stripe ½ antenna length

All Black Antenna:
Albuna pyramidalis – (m & f) front wing has red inner margin (closest to body)

Carmenta anthracipennis – (m & f) front wing entirely black with a yellow spot; abdomen entirely narrow striped

Synanthedon decipiens – (m & f) front wing has red discal bar; thorax lower margin yellow

Synanthedon helenis – (m & f) front wing has black discal bar with red spot close to inner margin; thorax black; only on Manitoba border

Synanthedon fulvipes – (m & f) bright orange legs

Synanthedon exitiosa – (m) abdomen entirely black; hind wings yellow tinted; similar to S. pictipes

Synanthedon pictipes – (m & f) white spot at sides of abdomen segment 4; hind wings not tinted yellow; similar to S. exitiosa male

Synanthedon myopaeformis – (m & f) abdomen segment 4 orange; only in London & Mississauga. (newly introduced from Europe)

Synanthedon rubrofascia – (m) abdomen segments 4 & 5 orange; feet white

Synanthedon scitula – (f) abdomen segment 4 yellow

Synanthedon scitula – (m) abdomen segment 2 & 4 narrow yellow stripe; abdomen tuft round, small; similar to S. tipuliformis 

Synanthedon tipuliformis (m & f) segments 2, 4 and 6 with narrow yellow stripe; abdomen tuft large, square; similar to S. scitula

Synanthedon scitula

Dogwood Clearwing Borer
Synanthedon scitula

POHL: 64-0090
MONA: 2549
GenBank: 348703

Black, including top of head. Eyes surrounded with silver-white. White to yellow hair on face. Back of head has white hair at each side, middle yellow or bald. Nose cone (palpi) yellow, last segment black on male; female entirely yellow.
Antenna: Long, black. Base (scape) yellow on underside.
Thorax: Black with a yellow stripe down each side. May have some yellow on shoulders (humeri) and on thorax side under wing.
Wings: Both front and hind wing transparent with brown margins. The hindwing margin may be visible through to the front wing. Outer (costal) margin sometimes streaked with yellow, more so on female. Dark mark (discal cell) at 2/3 wing length is slightly curved. Wing tip border is paler brown, very wide on both male and female and may have some yellowish streaks, more so on female. Hindwing has the base of outer margin yellow, rest black. No mid-wing mark. All margins narrow.
Legs: Yellow. Front thigh (femora) black with yellow tip. Hind shin (tibiae) has black base and black on last half. Feet yellow.
Abdomen: Black with narrow yellow stripe on segment 2. Male has another narrow stripe on segment 4, somewhat wider at side edges. Female has segment 4 entirely yellow. Female abdomen tip tuft black, rounded, with 4 yellow stripes – one at each side and 2 in the middle. Male abdomen tip has anal tuft flared, black, with slight yellow at each side.
Note: In U.S., females have more yellow stripes.

Size: Male 8 mm long. Female 10 mm. Wingspan 14 to 20 mm.

Habitat: Deciduous forest edges, meadows, orchards.

Food: Uses a large variety of woody plant species including dogwood, oak, plum, cherry and apple, beech, birch, chestnut, dogwood, hawthorn, hazel, bayberry, mountain ash, pine, hickory and pecan. Also found on nine-bark Physocarpus, and galls (especially oak).

Flight Time: All Season May to September.

Life Cycle: One generations per year in Ontario. Eggs are laid in damaged parts of plants. Overwinters as a larva in tunnels, pupating in same tunnels next spring. Pupation takes 25 days. Larva are creamy-white with large brown heads. Can be a pest in apple orchards.
Parasite: Braconid Wasp Pseudapanteles sessiae

Comments: Fairly common in central Ontario apple orchards. Leamington, Essex County in 2015-16.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Synanthedon proxima

Eastern Willow Borer
Synanthedon proxima

Eastern Willow Clearwing Borer Synanthedon proxima female July 06, 2007 at Lake Superior Provincial Park, Wawa, Ontario.
Eastern Willow Clearwing Borer Synanthedon proxima female July 06, 2007 at Lake Superior Provincial Park, Wawa, Ontario.


POHL: 64-0113
MONA: 2572
GenBank: None

Female is entirely black, including nose cone (palpi). Male nose cone white on underside and back of head with some pale yellow.
Antenna: Black with a white streak which covers almost last half of antenna. Male white streak sometimes faded.
Thorax: Black with a yellow stripe down each side.
Wings: Both front and hind wing transparent with violet-brown margins. The tiny dark mark on hindwing and hindwing margin may be visible through to the front wing. Female wing margins lighter, more golden brown. Outer (costal) margin streaked with golden yellow. Dark bar at 2/3 wing length (discal cell). Wing tip margin very wide. Fringes brown, more golden brown on female. Underside of fore wings golden. Hindwing margins very narrow, mark at mid-wing tiny.
Legs: Black with white tufts at tips of middle and hind shins (tibiae). Feet faintly striped on male. Last segment of foot white on both male and female.
Abdomen: Black. Male tuft at abdomen tip wedge-shaped, black with white on outer edges. Female tuft straight, entirely black.

Size: 9 to 12 mm long. Wingspan 17 to 23 mm.

Habitat: Swamps, bogs, wet meadows.

Food: Willow canes and exposed roots.

Flight Time: Late in May to July.

Life Cycle: Females lay eggs in damaged canes and exposed roots of willow, especially those damaged by the larvae of the Poplar-and-Willow Weevil Cryptorhynchus lapathi. Also reported to lay eggs in galls created by Long-horned Beetle Saperda inornata. One generation per year. Larva over-winter and pupate in their tunnels in early spring.

Comments: Recorded from Algoma (Lake Superior) and Hastings Counties. *Questionable in southern Michigan and Ohio.
DNA: Three public records at BOLD:
Michigan – GenBank #592770 returns a ‘not found’ at GenBank.
One from Maine and one from Nipigon, Ontario (housed in the Smithsonian) not barcoded and with no BIN #. At GenBank, Synanthedon proxima and the western Synanthedon albicornis are not listed.
*Kellicott’s female type synonym Albuna modesta is missing. Kellicott left his collection to the Ohio State University, where he taught from 1888 to 1898, although one of his Clear-wing Borer types is in the American Museum of Natural History. His description of Albuna modesta does not match all the other descriptions of Synanthedon proxima female. Possibly his Albuna modesta is a valid species. Most records of S. proxima are northern. Kellicott’s A. modesta was from Ohio. See Types on page 2 for a list of discrepancies.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Synanthedon pictipes

Lesser Peachtree Borer
Synanthedon pictipes

POHL: 64-0091
MONA: 2550
GenBank: 348701

Black. White to pale yellow stripe across top of head. Back of head black with thick, white to pale yellow fringe on each side, middle black. Eyes have white on inner margin. Nose cone (palpi) black with some yellow on underside.
Antenna: Long, black, reaching past mid abdomen. Males have 2 rows of very short hairs down length of antenna.
Thorax: Black with white stripe down each side of thorax. Two spots, barely separated, sometimes absent at end of thorax. Thorax side has white spot or streak before the wing.
Wings: Both front and hind wing transparent with black margins. The tiny dark mark on hindwing and hindwing margin may be visible through to the front wing. Front wing has narrow black bar at 2/3 wing length (discal cell). Sometimes with small, faint yellow tinted area before wing tip margin. Hindwing has very small mark at mid-wing margin. Fringe black.
Legs: Black, all joints have white scaling, including feet which are striped. Front and middle shin (tibiae) sometimes with heavy white scaling.
Abdomen: Black; longer and narrower than most other Synanthedon. Segment 2 lower margin has white line which does not continue to underside. Segment 4 has wide stripe on underside, visible as a white spot at side edge from the top side. Abdomen tip usually black, but sometimes with a few scattered white hairs; tip squared, but not flared. Female abdomen only slightly wider, otherwise identical to male.

Similar Species: The Peachtree Borer Synanthedon exitiosa male is almost identical, but has yellow tint on hind wings, lacks the white spots on each side of abdominal segment 4 and no white margin around eyes. All other similar species have white on the antenna.

Size: Female 10 to 13 mm. Male 7 to 10 mm long.

Habitat: Orchards and deciduous forests.

Food: Prunus species: Peach, Nectarine, Cherry, Plum. Also Serviceberry Amelanchier. Prefers damaged trees, especially with gummy cankers and black knot galls in the bark.

Flight Time: June to July.

Life Cycle: Males and females emerge in early morning and mate within hours. Females lay clusters of tiny, reddish-brown eggs under the bark of damaged areas of trunk and larger branches. Larvae feed in tunnels; 1st brood develops in 40 to 60 days; 2nd brood over-winters and resumes feeding in spring. Larva 18 mm long. Creamy white with a brown dot at sides of each segment; head yellowish-brown.  Cocoons are made of silk and debris near the surface of the bark. Pupa (identical to Synanthedon exitiosa) forms inside the cocoon, and is capable of movement, pushing through the bark surface for the moth to emerge. Day-flying.

Comments: Ontario, Essex County.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Synanthedon exitiosa

Peachtree Clearwing Borer Moth
Synanthedon exitiosa

POHL: 64-0124
MONA: 2583
GenBank: 106501

Identification: Male and female very different (dimorphic).

Female: Entirely black, including front wings. Hind wing transparent with black scales at the base of the wing, sometimes the scales appear as a black stripe. Legs entirely black, with some scattered white scaling. Abdomen black, except segment 4 entirely orange. Abdomen tip tufted, entirely black, square. (No photos).


Head: Black. Variable: pale yellowish-white hair to top of head, back of head at middle only, and on inner eye margin. None of the marks on head are reliable for ID. Nose cone (palpi) black with some yellow on underside.
Antenna: Black, long reaching mid-abdomen; fine hairs (pectinate).
Thorax: Black with pale yellowish-white stripe down each side. Two spots, barely separated at end of thorax, may be faded or absent on older individuals. Thorax side has a pale yellowish-white spot.
Wings: Both front and hind wings are transparent. Hind wing is yellow tinted and margin may appears as an extra bar through to the front wing.
Forewing has narrow black, shiny margins, Wide, black bar at 2/3 wing length (discal cell). Fringe black.
Main ID: Hindwing shiny, yellowish. Tiny mark at mid wing margin is barely visible. Outer margin (costal) is narrow, golden, rest of margins black. Tip with black fringe; sometimes golden along inner margin.
Legs: Black, shiny. Shins (tibiae) have thick pale yellowish-white scales, sometimes absent except on joints.

Abdomen: Black with pale yellowish-white, thin stripes across lower margin of all segments. Segment 3 stripe faded at side edges. Stripes fade quickly and may be entirely absent. Main ID: Abdomen tip has tuft of hair arrowhead shaped, flared out at sides, narrowing to a sharp point, with a white stripe down each side.

Similar Species:
The Lesser Peachtree Clearwing Borer Synanthedon pictipes male has a white spot at side edges of abdominal segment 4; striped legs; hindwings clear not yellowish; abdomen tip is not flared, black sometimes a few flecks of white.
The Currant Clearwing Borer Synanthedon tipuliformis male has only 3 abdominal stripes and a very large, square abdominal tuft.
All other similar males have white on antennae.
A worn female could be mistaken for the Boneset Clearwing Borer Carmenta pyralidiformis which also has a wide yellow (not orange) stripe on abdomen and a yellow stripe each side of thorax (absent on S. exitiosa).
The Red-belted or Apple Clearwing Synanthedon myopaeformis female has wide orange stripe on abdomen, but forewings are hyaline, not solid black as in S. exitiosa.

Size: Female 10 to 15 mm., male 8 to 13 mm. long.

Habitat: Fruit farms and deciduous woods.

Food: Prunus species: Apricot, peach, plum, cherry; Serviceberry Amelanchier.

Flight Time: June to September.

Life Cycle: Adults emerge from June to September and lay eggs on injured lower trunks or surface roots of Prunus. Larvae feed in tunnels, overwinter and resume feeding in spring. Pupate in tunnel, just under bark surface, sometimes taking two years. Larvae about 30 mm long, cream-coloured with a large brown head.

Comments: Common in s. w. Ontario, Essex County. A lot of confusion with this species throughout it’s history has generated 25 synonyms.
DNA problems: Over 20 samples (and the list keeps changing) from BOLD were ‘suppressed’ or ‘not found’ by GenBank. Many are obvious errors in identification. One from Colorado is clearly Synanthedon helenis.

For a long list of information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Synanthedon acerrubri

Red Maple Clearwing Borer
Synanthedon acerrubri

POHL: 64-0087
MONA: 2546
GenBank: 687062

Head: Head black, back of head (occiput) long orange hair. Nose cone (palpi) orange, underside and tip black. Inner margin of eye white.
Antenna: Black with white streak; long, reaching past mid-wing. Male has a short whitish to pale yellow streak just before tip and a row of scales (pectinate). Female has longer and brighter white streak.
Thorax: Black. Yellow streak running down each side of thorax. Underside yellow. Both the streaks and  underside become whitish with age.
Wings: Both front and hind wings are transparent, so the tiny dark mark on hindwing and hindwing margin may be visible through to the front wing.
Forewing margin black, streaked with some yellow on outer (costal) edge. Wide black bar at 2/3 wing length (discal cell). Male often has a yellowish streak in the margin below the bar; otherwise, this wing tip area is clear, not yellow. Wing tip area entirely bronzy-black. (A faint thin line may appear above the wing tip area; this is the outline of the hindwing.) Fringe short, grayish-black.
Hindwing margins narrow, black; outer (costal) margin streaked with yellow. Mid wing with a narrow black bar extending to first vein and which may be visible through front wing. Fringe grayish-black on outer edge, inner edge is yellow.
Legs: Top side of legs purplish-black. Underside yellow. Tips of shins (tibiae) and first 2 foot joints yellowish.
Abdomen: Black with yellow line on lower segment margin of 2, 4, 6 and 7, with 6 & 7 usually more orangish. Female banded or not. Male tuft ½ black in the middle, surrounded with orange. Female tuft orange.

Similar Species: Maple Callus Clearwing Borer Synanthedon acerni has wing tip area yellow with black veins and lacks any white on antenna.
Carmenta corni – Male abdomen tuft is mostly black, with some orange at center. Wing tip area is yellow. The orange at the back of the head extends to top of head, almost touching antenna base; on S. acerrubri top of head is entirely black, but may appear partly orange due to longer hairs at back of head flopping forward. C. corni feed on White-topped Asters Doellingeria umbellata and other plants and flies in July.

Size: 7 to 9 mm long. Wingspan 17 to 20 mm.

Habitat: Deciduous forests, parks, cities in street trees.

Food: Silver Maple Acer dasycarpum, Red Maple Acer rubrum, and Sugar Maple Acer saccharinum.  One report of Boxelder Acer negundo.

Flight Time: Late May to mid-August.

Life Cycle: The female lays up to 6 eggs in Maple twigs and branches up to 44 mm. (2 inches) diameter, unlike the Maple Callus Borer Synanthedon acerni which uses tree trunks. The female chooses damaged bark like the scars left from the Leopard Moth Zeuzera pyrina or beetles.
Larvae are 12 to 15 mm. White, thin with folded skin; head smooth, brown, mouth black. Feet pale yellow. Over-winters as larvae with continued feeding in the spring. Cocoon is thick and sticky, formed just under the bark. Pupa is capable of movement, it breaks through the bark so the moth can emerge.

Comments: Common in Ontario. Essex County.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Synanthedon acerni

Maple Callus Borer
Synanthedon acerni


POHL: 64-0095
MONA: 2554
GenBank: 689287

Head: Dark orange, including back of head and nose cone (palpi). Inner eye margin white.
Antenna: Long, entirely brown-black. Base (scape) orange. Male antennae have very fine, barely visible short hairs (pectinate).
Thorax: Deep orange; fading to yellowish-brown, or almost bald (black) on older individuals. Faint orange stripe down each side, widening into tufts by wing base; may be absent in older individuals. Underside yellow.
Wings: Both front and hind wings are transparent, so the dark mark and border of hindwing may be visible through the front wing.
Forewing margins black,  streaked with yellow on outer (costal) margin. Wide black bar at 2/3 wing length (discal cell). Wing tip area yellow with narrow black bar before the yellow, fading out at center, but may appear solid, thicker and darker if the border of the hindwing is showing through. A small black spot on outer (costal) border at end of this narrow bar. Below the bar wing is entirely yellow with black veins. Fringe short, grayish-black.
Hindwing margins narrow, black; outer (costal) margin streaked with yellow. Mid wing has a wide black bar extending across 2 veins; may be visible through to front wing. Fringe grayish-black. Male hind wing has some faint yellow at tip.
Legs: For the most part yellowish, streaked with brown. Front leg usually more orangish. All shins have darker tips. Feet very long and thin, faintly streaked or ringed with brown.
Abdomen: Black, lower half or less of each segment, except 3rd  usually absent, has yellowish scaling, wider at side edges. On older individuals reduced to only a yellowish line. Underside yellowish-brown with black patch at sides of 2nd segment. Female abdomen wider, tip with a bright orange tuft. Male tuft has base half black, rest orange, underside of tuft yellow.

Similar Species: Red Maple Borer Synanthedon acerrubri has entirely black area at wing tip, no yellow and the antennae have a white streak before tips.

Size: 8 to 10 mm. long. Wingspan 18 to 22 mm.

Habitat: Deciduous forests.

Food: Silver Maple Acer dasycarpum, Red Maple Acer rubrum, Sugar Maple Acer saccharinum, and Mountain Ash Pyrus americana. Attacks only trees weakened from previous injuries.

Flight Time: May to August

Life Cycle: The female lays one egg in each wound on trunks, seldom in branches of maple trees, often using the same wound each year; female lay eggs continually during the summer. The larvae feed on tree sap in tunnels, over-winter, resume feeding in the spring and move back to entrance hole to pupate. The pupa, capable of movement, works its way to the surface. The moth emerges, usually in the early morning, leaving the pupa half popped out of the entrance hole.
Larvae 12 to 19 mm. Pale yellowish-brown, flattened; head small, rounded and more yellowish, black between antennae. Abdomen tip with tubercle at each side. Legs reddish. According to literature, the male is the only Clearwing Borer attracted to lights, but a few others, including Synanthedon tipuliformis males have been taken at moth lights.

Comments: Common. Essex County – Point Pelee National Park insect list. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park insect list.
The destruction of native Maples by S. acerni caused municipalities to use the non-native Norway Maple Acer platanoides which was resistant to infestation of many of our native insects. Infestations of native Maples were rampant, causing death in municipal areas, but rare in forests. Kellicott (1880’s) thought this was due to a lack of woodpecker activity in towns and cities.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Amydria effrentella

Tubeworm Moth
Amydria effrentella

POHL: 30-0046
MONA: 0334
GenBank: 700078

Head: Female yellowish-brown, male somewhat darker, both have entire head covered with flatted hairs, similar to Clothes Moths Tineidae. Small eyes. Nose cone (palpi) projecting; middle segment covered with long hair (bearded), brown on outside, lighter in the middle. Last segment almost bare, yellow, projecting up to top of head.
Antenna: Yellowish-brown, thick, many segments reaching to mid-wing.
Thorax: Dark brown, surrounded with yellowish-brown. No mane or spiked hair like other Tubeworms.
Wings: Long and narrow with rounded tips. Yellowish-brown mottled with dark brown. Inner marginal area more yellowish-brown. Outside (costal) margin dark at base, the rest checkered dark brown and yellowish, becoming progressively smaller around wing tip. Female has more yellowish, especially near wing tips. Fringe yellowish, much longer at anal angle.
Hind wings pale grayish-yellow, including fringe.
Legs: Yellowish-brown, covered with dark brown scales.
Abdomen: Much shorter than wings, smooth; yellowish-gray.

Size: 9 to 12 mm long. Wingspan 15 to 25 mm.

Habitat: Forests.

Food: Dried plant material.

Flight Time: June to July

Life Cycle: Unknown. One report found it to be a common inhabitant of the leafy nests of the mountain beaver. Adults attracted to lights.

Comments: Essex County – photos July 2011 & 2012. Forbes 1923 reported it from Parry Sound, Ontario. BOLD shows Georgian Bay area.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Acrolophus texanella

Tubeworm Moth
Acrolophus texanella

See photos at:

POHL: 30-0052 – 2 Pt. Pelee & Norfolk
GenBank: 1473600

Dark brown-black, eyes large, hairy. Nose cone (palpi) curved, long, reaching to end of thorax; dark brown-black, more brownish-yellow on inner sides; hair is longer and darker at tips. Female head usually lighter coloured with nose cone very short, hairy.
Antenna: Brownish-yellow. Main ID: Male antenna reaching to mid-wing; scales are wrapped entirely around each segment (unipectinate).
Thorax: Dark brown-black; hair almost erect from top of eye through to end of mane. Mane short.
Wings: Forewing brown mixed with grayish-yellow. No discal spot. Dark squarish patch at mid-wing, close to inner margin. Last 1/3 of wings darker, angled wider on outer (costal) edge. Sometimes with a white line before the dark diagonal patch.
Hind wings grayish-black. Fringe two-tone, base lighter.
Female can be same as male, or lighter brown to tan with dark dashes throughout, dark patch at wing end absent.
Legs: Male legs dark, female legs yellowish.
Abdomen: Dark gray.

Size: Small 9 to 12 mm long. Wingspan 18 to 24 mm.

Habitat: Unknown

Food: Unknown

Flight Time: June and July

Life Cycle: Unknown. Generally larvae created silk-lined tunnels below ground, feed on roots and plant leaves at night. Over-winters as a larvae, continues feeding in spring, and pupates in tunnel.

Comments: New Canadian record, known from two BOLD specimens from Pt. Pelee Jul 04-12 (ON), and from Norfolk Co. (ON) by KS, per Pohl (2018).

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Acrolophus propinqua

Walsingham’s Grass Tubeworm Moth
Acrolophus propinqua

POHL: 30-0063
MONA: 0374
GenBank: None

Grayish, covered with purplish iridescent speckles. Nose cones (palpi) very long, curved over head and reaching past end of thorax; sides of cones grayish, central area an obvious bright brownish-yellow. Eyes have lashes (hair) on inner margin.
Antenna: Short, reaching to end of thorax. Brownish-yellow, thick segments somewhat knife-like (serrated) or laminated on underside.
Thorax: Purplish-gray, no mane.
Wings: Varied in size and colour.
Male: Much smaller than female, wings narrower; grayish, covered with purplish iridescent speckles. A slightly darker, but faint spot at mid wing (discal cell); and usually with some darker shading and a few whitish scales near wing tip (apical 1/3).
Female: Much larger than male, wings wider. Mid wing dark spot barely visible. Sometimes with a purple-white stripe down inner wing margins, speckled with dark and with a dark patch along inner whitish border at mid-wing.
Hind wings gray-brown, fringe slightly paler.
Legs: Grayish-yellow, covered, more or less with dark scales.
Abdomen: Grayish-purple.

Size: Female 12 to 17 mm long. Wingspan 20 to 34 mm.
Male 9 to 12 mm. Wingspan 18 to 26 mm.

Habitat: Forest edges and meadows; cultivated fields.

Food: Grasses

Flight Time: Mid-June to end of July

Life Cycle: Typically Tubeworm larvae bury into the soil, creating silken tubes. They feed on grass thatch at the base of the plant or their roots. Pupate in their tube.

Comments: Not listed for Canada or Ontario. In Wheatley June 15 to July 30 in 2011 to 2013.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Acrolophus popeanella

Streaked Tubeworm Moth
Acrolophus popeanella

POHL: 30-0060
MONA: 00373
GenBank: 691622

Grayish to blackish-brown. Nose cone (palpi) hairy, blackish-brown on side edges, central part and tips light yellowish-brown to creamy yellow. Male nose cone curving over head and reaching to end of thorax. Female head light yellowish-brown and hairy nose cone short, directed outward, yellowish-brown.
Antenna: Yellowish-brown, reaching just past end of thorax. Male segments stout, knife-like (serrated) on underside.
Thorax: Medium-sized mane, dull dark brownish to brownish-gray, tipped with grayish-white on all edges. Female has no mane; thorax light brown to cream-colored with only a few darker spiked hairs.
Wings: Variable. Reddish-brown, but usually brown to dark brown. Main ID: Bright yellow to pale yellow streak from wing base, diagonally to inner margin just before wing tip. Streak is broken near inner margin end by a black spot or triangle. (Note: This black spot can become small with age, but it is always present on both male and female.) Often, parts of the yellow streak are outlined with dark brown which fades with age. Dark spot at 2/3 wing length (discal cell) with a short streak of yellow before and after the spot, often faded on both older males and females. Fringe mixed light and dark brown.
Variations: Very dark males often have white veins on last half of wing. Older males turn various colours of light brown to almost entirely pale yellowish. Females when fresh have the same markings as males. Older females become almost speckled, usually the yellow diagonal streak is still visible, but faded.
Hindwings grayish.
Legs: Light brown to tannish, with dark scales, especially on shins. Feet (tarsi) have each segment dark with tips light.
Abdomen: Grayish-black, much shorter than wings.

Similar Species: Aged females are similar to Acrolophus propinqua females, but have only a few dark spiked hairs on thorax. A. propinqua has fairly thick reddish-brown spiked thorax.

Size: 11 to 14 mm. long. Wingspan 24 to 30 mm.

Habitat: Meadows, forest edges.

Food: Clover roots – both white and red reported.

Flight Time: Mid-June to July in s. w. Ontario.

Life Cycle: Larvae tunnel into soil around clover roots. Tunnels are silk-lined. Over-winter as larvae and continue feeding the next spring. Pupate in tunnels in late spring.
Larvae about 17 mm long. Dark brownish-purple with raised spots. Head black, bordered with a brown line. Abdomen tip lighter colored.  Legs brown-black, long.

Comments: “New for Canada based on 1 record by KS” per Pohl et al. (2018). Assumed KS is Ken Stead in Lambton County, no date. Recorded in Wheatley 2011 to 2014, and Point Pelee National Park in 2018. Acrolophus popeanella is the most frequent Tubeworm at the moth light in Wheatley.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Acrolophus plumifrontella

Eastern Grass Tubeworm
Acrolophus plumifrontella

For photos see:

POHL: 30-0058 Possible
MONA: 0372
GenBank: None

Head: Light brownish-red. Nose cone (palpi) long, hairy, reddish-brown to brown, reaching almost to end of thorax. Female nose cone very long, straight out, pointed, slightly hairy.
Antenna: Yellowish-brown, reaching almost to mid-wing. Female antenna thin, male thicker, serrated only near tips.
Thorax: Thick, mane-like, light brown with some reddish-brown mixed in.
Wings: Male: Very wide (6 to 7 mm), short with more squarish tip. Deep reddish-brown with dark brown dusting. Outer (costal) margin usually quite red, even when old. Inner margin has wide area of lighter reddish-brown with 2 dark spots. Another dark spot at 2/3 wing length (discal cell), sometimes absent. Fringe brown. Hindwing grayish-brown.
Female forewing lighter, mixed with grayish-brown. Net-like (reticulated) dark lines throughout, dark spots similar to male. Fringe concolorous or slightly checkered darker.
Legs: Light brown, dusted with white, except tufts on shins (tibiae) thick and dark reddish-brown to brown.
Abdomen: Dark, striped lighter.

Size: 12 to 16 mm long. Wingspan 25 to 34 mm.

Habitat: Meadows, forest edges.

Food: Clover roots.

Flight Time: Mid-June to July  

Life Cycle: Unknown. 

Comments: Not recorded in Ontario, but may expand range from Ohio. 

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Acrolophus morus (mora)

Dark Tubeworm Moth
Acrolophus morus

For photos see:

POHL: 30-0081
MONA: 0367
GenBank: 700077

Identification: Fall flying.
Head: Brown. Eyes have no lashes on inner margin. Nose cone (palpi) slightly hairy, curved, lighter brown to yellowish; barely reach base of thorax.  Female nose cone very short, not noticeable.
Antenna: Pale yellowish-brown, reaching to mid-wing. Male antenna scaled on all sides (laminate), like Acrolophus texanella. Female antenna very thin.
Thorax: Brownish-gray. Hairs spiked; hairs on thorax sides brushed up to center.
Wings: Fore wings very long and more pointed than all other Acrolophus. Inner margin has wide yellowish-brown area, with a dark triangle at mid-wing close to inner margin. Rest of wing can be same color, darker, or almost black. Sometimes a small line at 2/3 wing length (discal cell). Dark spots around wing tip, similar to female Acrolophus arcanella). Fringe dark brown. Hind wings brownish-black.
Female similar to male, or cream colored along inner margin and light brown speckled for rest of the wing.
Legs: Can be light or dark brown, almost black. More feathery hair then other Acrolophus. Male legs usually darker.
Abdomen: Light or dark brown.

Size: Wingspan 30 mm. Some quite small 18 mm to 24 mm wingspan.

Habitat: Deciduous & conifer forests with Birch.

Food: Birch – one report from 1905.

Flight Time: Mid-September to October

Life Cycle: Apparently a day-flyer (late afternoon). Eggs laid on Birch bark from 1 report in 1905. The egg is long, narrow, and strongly ridged.

Comments: Norfolk County Sept. 22, 2016 by Beadle. Lambton County in 2007 was 1st record. Also Dundas County. Rare, more northern species.

Synonyms: Grote 1882
Eutheca mora, Sapinella mora, Pseudanaphora mora, Acrolophus mora.

Bulletin of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories 1882 by Grote, pp. 257 to 258 as Eutheca mora.
A Synonymic Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera, 1892, Vol. 1 by Kirby, pg. 534 Sapinella genus.
Transactions of the American Entomological Society, 1893, Vol. 20 by Smith, pg. 10 Sapinella.
The Canadian Entomologist, 1895, Vol. 27 by Dyar, pg. 15 as Pseudanaphora mora.
Cornell University Agriculture Experimental Station, 1923, Memoir 68 by Forbes, pg. 121 as Acrolophus morus.
Proceedings of the United States National Museum, 1964, Vol. 114 by Hasbrouck, pp. 632 to 636 as Acrolophus morus.
Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 1967, Vol. 75 by Klots, pg. 18 – day flying.
Northeastern Naturalist, 1997, Vol. 4 #1: The Moth Acrolophus morus in Maine by Russo & Roberts, pp. 45 to 46.
Ohio State University Research Bulletin, 2001 #1192: Lepidoptera of Wayne County, Ohio by Rings and Downer, pg. 21. Larval food and fly dates.

Holotype as Eutheca mora female by Grote, 1882. Type Locality: New York. In the British Museum of Natural History, London, England.

Acrolophus arcanella

Grass Tubeworm Moth
Acrolophus arcanella

POHL: 30-0080 Not listed for Canada or Ontario
MONA: 0340
GenBank: 1178030

Identification: Colour fades quickly in older individuals to dark yellowish-brown.
Head: Thick dark brown to blackish hair covers face. Eyes small, hairy (lashes) on inner eye margin. Main ID: Nose cone (palpi) on male hairy, dark brown with some brownish-yellow on inner sides; very short, projecting straight up to just above head, tips somewhat pointed. Female nose cone light brown, extremely short, projecting outward, barely visible.
Antenna: Pale yellowish-brown, reaching just past end of thorax.
Thorax: Long thick, mane-like; dark brown to blackish, often with some brownish-yellow at side edges. Female thorax more golden brown with reduced black.
Wings: Background brown-black mixed with grayish-brown. Inner margin yellowish with two yellowish triangles and with a dark triangle before and between the yellowish triangles. Female background lighter brown, inner margin tan. Fringe wide checkered dark and light.
Hind wings dark brown, tinged with black.
Legs: Dark brown, hairy, fading to yellowish-brown when older. Feet striped brown and cream. Female front leg sometimes more yellowish-brown.

Size: 12 to 16 mm long. Wingspan 28 to 32 mm.

Habitat: Dry, sandy meadows and dry forest edges.

Food: Roots and leaves of grasses. Other old reports of feeding on crop roots and young leaves of corn, wheat and clover pertained only to the 1st year of a new field on virgin soil.

Flight Time: June 28 to July 20 in s. w. Ontario.

Life Cycle: Females lay eggs (probably on soil) in July. Larvae, sometimes gregarious, form silk-lined tunnels deep in soil and feed on grass roots, or surface at night to feed on leaves. Over-winters in tunnel, pupating in late spring after feeding on young leaves.
Larvae about 22 mm. long. Velvet gray with white, shiny areas on thorax with V-shaped marks. Shield and 1st thorax segment black. Head has Y-shaped mark and a crescent groove. Antenna long, retractable. Dark legs, crochets in a circle. Adults apparently are late day-flying and also come to lights at night (mostly males).

Comments: Not listed in The Annotated Checklist of the Moths and Butterflies (Lepidoptera) of Canada and Alaska, 2018 by Pohl et al. for Canada or Ontario.
In Wheatley from late June to late July, 2011 to 2015. A. arcanella was the 2nd most common Tubeworm at the moth light.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page