Aphomia sociella (Linnaeus, 1758)
Bumble Bee Moth
(one synonym: Crambus colonum Fabricius, 1798)
GALLERIINAE,   PYRALIDAE,   PYRALOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Aphomia sociella
(Photo: courtesy of George Pilkington)

The Caterpillars of this species are pale yellow with a brown head, and live communally in a protective tough silk web. They are typically found in high nests of

  • Bumble Bees ( Bombus species ), and
  • Social Wasps ( Vespinae species ).

    In the bee or wasp nest, they tunnel aound, and feed on anything they can find, including bee or wasp eggs, larvae, pupae, dead adults, wax, pollen, honey, and waste.

    Aphomia sociella
    female
    (Photo: courtesy of Jean-Francois Landry)

    The female moth has greenish-grey forewings, each crossed by two dark zigzag lines, and have a dark spot at the middle. The males have a large pale brown smudge across each forewing.

    Aphomia sociella
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of Axel Hausmann)

    The hindwings are grey, darkening toward the wing-tips. The hindwings each have a recurved margin. The green tinge fades to brown in dead specimens. The wingspan is about 2.5 cms.

    The moths have a courtship involving pheromones released by both male and female moths, and the use of ultrasonic courting songs.

    The species is a pest in beehives around the world, including

  • Britain,
  • Canada,
  • Russia,

    as well as in Australia in

  • Queensland.


    Further reading :

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Entomologia Systematica Emendata et Aucta,
    Volume 5, Supplementum (1798), p. 469, No. 32.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Insecta Lepidoptera,
    Systema Naturae,
    Edition 10, Volume 1 (1760), Class 5, Part 3, p. 534, No. 234.


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    (written 26 March 2019)