Agonopterix alstromeriana (Clerck, 1759)
Hemlock Moth
(erroneously known as : Agonopterix alstroemeriana Linnaeus, 1788)
DEPRESSARIIDAE,   GELECHIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Agonopterix alstromeriana
(Photo: courtesy of Eric Coombs, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org)

The Caterpillar of this species is initially yellow with a black head. Later instars become green with three dark stripes along the body, and a yellowish head. The caterpillar lives in a shelter created from rolled leaves and flowers of its foodplant, and feeds on:

  • Poison Hemlock ( Conium maculatum, APIACEAE ).

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 1 cm. It pupates in the soil. The pupa is rusty brown, with tufts of hair.

    Agonopterix alstromeriana
    (Photo: courtesy of Elaine McDonald, Nicholls Rivulet, Tasmania)

    The adult moth has pale fawn forewings, each with various markings including an orange-edged black patch at the middle of the costa. The hindwings are off-white shading to pale brown at the wingtips. The wingspan is about 2 cms.

    Agonopterix alstromeriana
    (Photo: courtesy of Elaine McDonald, Nicholls Rivulet, Tasmania)

    The female moth lays a total of about 200 small pale eggs on the undersides of foodplant leaves.

    The species was originally found in Europe, including

  • Austria,
  • Belgium,
  • Spain,
  • United Kingdom,

    but has been introduced into other countries sometimes accidentally, and sometimes deliberately to control the poisonous Hemlock plant, which can kill grazing cattle. So the moth can now be found in

  • Canada,
  • New Zealand,
  • USA,

    as well as in Australia in

  • Tasmania.

    Agonopterix alstromeriana
    (Photo: courtesy of SIP Haapala)

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    (written 9 August 2019)