Ponometia candefacta

Olive-shaded Bird-dropping Moth
Ponometia candefacta

POHL: 93-1314
MONA: 9090
GenBank: 56578

Identification: In Canada, it’s also called the Ragweed False Looper.
Head: White; face brown between eyes. Nose cone very short, tips brown.
Antenna: Brown, with some white scaling. Reaches to mid-wing.
Thorax: White, large raised tuft at tip. Tuft usually white, but sometimes darker.
Wings: Widening to a squared tip. Base 1/3 of wings white with light or dark olive-gray shading in central area. A brown, more or less triangular patch at mid-wing which may extend to dark patch (sometimes mixed with yellowish) on outer (costal) margin.
Main ID: Wide brown, slanted stripe extending from mid-wing patch to wing tip.
Main ID: In between the two dark areas is a large brown oval spot (reniform spot), surrounded with white.
Wing tip with dark dots. Fringe mixed light and dark, but not checkered. Hindwing is white, more grayish brown at margin, fringe white.
Legs: Dark brown, dusted with white. Feet striped.
Abdomen: Short, thin; grayish-white.

Similar Species: The Small Bird-dropping Moth Ponometia erastrioides lacks the large brown spot surrounded with white and the wide slanted stripe to wing tip; outer wing margin (costa) white extends right to wing tip.
Both the Olive-shaded and the Exposed Bird-dropping Moth Tarache aprica have dark brown at wing tip on outer (costal) margin.

Size: 9 to 11 mm long. Wingspan 18 to 22 mm.

Habitat: Field and forest edges; dry, sandy meadows.

Food: Adults feed on flower nectar. Larva feed on Ragweed Ambrosia, preferring the flowers. Also reported on Burdock Arctium and Bushy Asters Symphyotrichum dumosus.

Flight Time: May to June; late July to end of August.

Life Cycle: Adults are both day-flying and attracted to lights at night. 2 generations per year. Over-winters as a pupa in leaves and mosses on the ground. Larvae are loopers, green with many very thin, long white lines. A wide white line down the sides. About 20 to 24 mm.
Similar Species: The Small Bird-dropping Moth Ponometia erastrioides has dark brown on head, thorax, abdomen tip and underside. Both feed on Ragweed at the same time.

Comments: Widespread in southern Ontario. Essex County – Point Pelee. Used as a biological control in Russia since 1966 (imported from Ontario) for accidentally introduced ragweed. Although the moths are of epidemic proportion and have spread over 500 km, ragweed is still rampant.

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