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Ailanthus Webworm

This southern critter spends its summers in the North.


This colorful moth spends much of its time in close association with tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), a gangly tree known for its propensity to produce volunteers and grow in even the most formidable locations. Folding over a few leaves of the ailanthus, the webworm lays its eggs, and the emerging larvae eat the leaves.

A native of Central and South America, the ailanthus webworm can't overwinter in cold areas. Instead, the adults fan out over the continental U.S. and as far north as southern Canada. The adult visits flowers and is considered a pollinator; the ailanthus webworm is rarely a garden pest.

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