Overview

Brief Summary

The fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea, is a moth in the family Arctiidae known principally for its larval stage, which creates characteristic webbed nests on the tree limbs of a wide variety of hardwoods in the late summer and fall. The adult is a white or white and black spotted moth with wing span 30mm. Females lay between 300-1000 eggs in batches of about 100; the larvae hatch out and feed together from a inside their web structure, which they build and continually enlarge as they grow. In North America, where it is native, many natural enemies help maintain low-level populations and although their numbers do periodically crest into outbreaks, the fall webworm is mainly an aesthetic pest usually without economic consequence. Healthy trees, although they can become defoliated sometimes two years in a row in outbreaks, usually recover. The fall webworm is among the most polyphagous of insects, feeding on just about any type of deciduous tree. Worldwide, it has been recorded from 636 species. When it entered Europe in the 1940s there was great concern for containing its rapid spread. Currently it is well established across Europe and Asia, and although it is a significant pest of hardwoods orchard and ornamental trees in some Eastern European regions, it is now fully established across these continents, and is considered a static pest responsible for local damage.

Much research energy has been put into biological control of the fall web worm using Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki, which has been especially effective in containing populations in Korea and Hungary. Sex pheromones have been obtained from female H. cunea and are used in monitoring traps.

(CABI 2011; Global Invasive Species Database 2007; Hyche 1999)

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Comprehensive Description

General Description

Hyphantrea cunea is very similar to Spilosoma congrua, which is usually immaculate or nearly immaculate. Spilosoma congrua has a more robust body and the forewing apex is less pointed.
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Distribution

Occurs across most of the U.S. and southern Canada, although absent from central and western Alberta and south-eastern B.C.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Ecology

Habitat

Shrubby areas in the eastern and southern prairie ecoregion of Alberta.
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Trophic Strategy

An extremely polyphagous species, recorded primarily from trees and shrubs.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

June.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hyphantria cunea

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 69
Specimens with Barcodes: 149
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Hyphantria cunea

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 68 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

TTTACCWGG---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ATTTGG---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ATAATTTCTCATATTATTTCCCAAGAAAGAGGAAAAAAA---GAAACTTTTGGTTGTCTAGGRATAATTTATGCTATACTAGCTATTGGAWTACTAGGATTTATTGTTTGAGCTCATCATATATTTACWGTAGGTATAGATATTGATACWCGAGCWTATTTYACATCMGCAACTATAATTATTGCTGTACCTACAGGAATTAAAATTTTTAGTTGATTA---GCAACTTTTCATGGAACW---CAAATTAATTACTCMCCTTCAATTTTATGAAGATTAGGATTTGTATTTTTATTTACTGTAGGAGGATTAACAGGTGTAATTTTATCAAATTCATCWATTGATATTACWTTACATGATACWTATTATGTTGTAGCTCAYTTTCATTATGTT---CTTTCTATAGGAGCWGTWTTTGCTATTATAGGAGGATTTATTCAYTGATAYCCAYTATTTACWGGAYTWTCWATAAACYCATTTTTATTAAAAATTCAATTTTTTGTWATATTTATCGGTGTTAATTTAACTTTTTTYCCWCAACATTTCTTAGGWTTAGCAGGAATRCCTCGT---CGTTATTCTGATTATCCWGATTCYTATATT---TCWTGAAATATTATYTCTTCTTTAGGTTCTTATATTTCATTATTAGCAGTWATATTTATATTAATTATTATTTGAGAATCAATAATTAACCAACGAATTRCT---TTATTTTCATTAAATATACCTTCATCA
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Wikipedia

Fall webworm

The fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea, is a moth in the family Arctiidae known principally for its larval stage, which creates the characteristic webbed nests on the tree limbs of a wide variety of hardwoods in the late summer and fall. It is mainly an aesthetic pest, and is not believed to harm otherwise healthy trees. It is well known to commercial tree services and arboriculturists.

Range[edit]

The moth is native to North America, ranging from Canada to Mexico, and is one of the few insect pests introduced from North America into other continents. Introduced to what was formerly Yugoslavia in the 1940s (firstly recorded in 1949[1]), it now has occupied probably its entire range in Europe from France to the Caspian Sea in the east, as well as penetrates into Central Asia: Turkmenistan (from 1990-1993), Uzbekistan (Fergana valley from 1996-1997), Kyrghyzstan, and southeastern Kazakhstan. It was also introduced into Japan in 1945, and has adjusted its number of generations per year since its arrival.[2] It spread into China, southern Mongolia, Korea and southern Primorsky Krai of Russia, so now is considered holarctic in distribution.

Life cycle[edit]

One generation per year emerges in the northern part of North America, with larvae appearing in late summer through early fall. South of an approximate latitude of 40°N there are two or more generations annually, with webs appearing progressively earlier further south.[3]

Egg[edit]

The adult moth lays her eggs on the underside of leaves in 'hair'-covered clusters of a few hundred.[4] Eggs hatch in about a week.[5]

Larva[edit]

The caterpillars are highly variable in coloration, ranging from a pale yellow, to dark grey, with yellow spots and long and short bristles.[3] There are two cream stripes along the sides. The two races, one more common in the north, the other in the south, differ in head capsule coloration.[5] The maximum length is 35 mm. Webs are progressively enlarged, and much messier looking than those of tent caterpillars (which occur only in spring and have shorter hairs and very little yellow on their bodies) also (webs from the fall webworm are concentrated to the tips of the branches, where as the tent caterpillar webs are largely found in the unions). Larvae feed inside the tents until the late instars. Very young larvae feed only on the upper surfaces of leaves. Later, they consume whole leaves. The larval stage lasts about four to six weeks.[5]

Pupa[edit]

The pupa stage overwinters in the bark and leaf litter at the base of the trees. It is dark brown and about 10 mm long. The thin brown cocoon is made of silk with bits of detritus interwoven.[5] This stage overwinters.

Adult[edit]

Male
Female

The adult is mostly white in the north, but in the south, it may be marked with black or brown spots on the forewings.[4][5] It is quite 'hairy', and the front legs have bright yellow or orange patches. The underwings will have less marking than the forewings, and the abdomen often has a sprinkling of brown hairs. It has a wingspan of 35–42 mm.

Illustration of webworm (1917)

Food plants[edit]

Webworms moving in their nest.

The fall webworm feeds on just about any type of deciduous tree, where leaves are chewed; branches or the entire tree may become defoliated. Worldwide, it has been recorded from 636 species,[6] and is considered to be among the most polyphagous of insects. In the eastern U.S., pecan, walnut, American elm, hickory, fruit trees, and some maples are preferred hosts; in some areas persimmon and sweetgum are also readily eaten. In the west, alder, willow, cottonwood and fruit trees are commonly used.[4]

Appearances in media[edit]

In the video game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the AI Colonel, while infected by a computer virus, mentions that he was a North American Fall Webworm in his past life, reminiscing about how "those were the good old days."

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lopez-Vaamonde, C.; Agassiz, D.; Augustin, S.; De Prins, J.; De Prins, W.; Gomboc, S.; Ivinskis, P.; Karsholt, O.; Koutroumpas, A.; Koutroumpa, F.; Laštůvka, Z. K.; Marabuto, E.; Olivella, E.; Przybylowicz, L.; Roques, A.; Ryrholm, N.; Sefrova, H.; Sima, P.; Sims, I.; Sinev, S.; Skulev, B.; Tomov, R.; Zilli, A.; Lees, D. (2010). "Lepidoptera. Chapter 11". BIORISK – Biodiversity and Ecosystem Risk Assessment 4. doi:10.3897/biorisk.4.50.  edit
  2. ^ Gomi, Takeda (1996). "Changes in life-history traits of Fall Webworm within half a century of introduction into Japan.". Functional Ecology. 10:384-389. 
  3. ^ a b Wagner, DL (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern Forests. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press. 
  4. ^ a b c Douce, GK. "The Fall Webworm". Accessed August 21, 2006.
  5. ^ a b c d e Hyche, LL. "Fall webworm: A Guide to Recognition and Habits in Alabama". Accessed August 21, 2006.
  6. ^ Warren, LO; Tadic M (1970). The fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea (Drury). Arkansas Agric. Exp.Sta. Bull. 

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Following Lafontaine and Schmidt (2010), the traditional Arctiidae have been transferred to the family Erebidae as a subfamily (Arctiinae), with former subfamilies such as Lithosiinae now treated as tribes. The circumscription of Arctiinae remains virtually identical to recent circumscriptions of Arctiidae, but circumscriptions of some taxa within the Arctiinae have changed.

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