Moths of North Carolina
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56 NC Records

Yponomeuta multipunctella Clemens, 1860 - American Ermine Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Yponomeutoidea Family: YponomeutidaeSubfamily: YponomeutinaeTribe: [Yponomeutinae]P3 Number: 360017.00 MONA Number: 2420.00
Comments: Y. multipunctella is one of five species of Yponomeuta that occur north of Mexico. Three North American species (Y. euonymella, Y. leucothorax, and Y. semialba) are no longer recognized and are treated as Y. multipunctella (Lewis and Sohn, 2015). A fourth species (Y. atomocella) was transferred to the genus Prays. Four of the five currently recognized North American species of Yponomeuta are introduced, and some have become defoliating pests of apples, cherries and ornamental Euonymus species.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Lewis and Sohn (2015); microleps.org                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Adults are white with 3-4 rows of black dots. Y. cagnagella is an introduced species that resembles Y. multipunctella, but has fewer black dots, particularly near the middle of the forewing. This species is a pest on ornamental Euonymus species and was first recorded in North America from Ontario in 1967. Y. cagnagella has since spread to the northern US and south to Delaware and Maryland. It could potentially reach North Carolina in the future.
Wingspan: 17-20 mm (Covell 1982).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Caterpillars can be found in early spring before the adults first appear, suggesting that the eggs overwinter and hatch as the host plants begin their spring growth. The larvae feed in small communal webs, primarily on the shoots of American Strawberry-bush (Euonymus americanus). Individual bushes often have most shoots covered with webs, and a single web typically contains fewer than 10 larvae. In many cases, individual plants can be heavily defoliated by foraging caterpillars during the spring months. Many older instar larvae leave the communal webs, but some remain and pupate beneath the webbing (microleps.org; Covell, 1984).

Jim Petranka found larvae in Madison Co. that were pupating communally on the undersides of low-lying vegetation within 15 cm of the ground surface. The nests were within 3 meters of E. americanus shrubs where the earlier instars fed. The larvae constructed communal nests by folding 1-3 leaves under with silk. They then spun very thin whitish cocoons within the silk refuge. The nests contained from 2-30 pupae and were construct using the leaves of Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea), Red Maple, and Southern Red Oak. The larvae presumably dropped or crawled from the overlying Euonymus foliage, then managed to locate other larvae or pupae, perhaps by using scent trails.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Almost all records are from the Piedmont and Blue Ridge where the host species are most common.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

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Immature Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Single-brooded, with a peak in June.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Populations are restricted to areas that support the host plants, which are Euonymus species (Sperling et al. 1995, Ulenberg 2009). The primary host is the American Strawberry-bush (Euonymus americanus). This species is widespread in mesic to rich forests, but also occurs to a lesser extent in both floodplain forests and drier pine-oak and oak-hickory forests. Two other native Euonymus (E. atropurpureus; E. obovatus) are uncommon and presumably serve as secondary hosts where local populations occur. Several species ofEuonymus from Europe and Asia are widely planted as ornamentals in the eastern US, but Y. multipunctella does not use these as host plants.
Larval Host Plants: American Strawberry-bush (Euonymus americanus,) Eastern Wahoo (E. atropurpureus) and Running Strawberry-bush (E. obovatus).
Observation Methods: This species is easily detected by examining Euonymus americanus in early spring for the distinctive communal webs. The adults readily come to black lights.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: The American Ermine Moth is rather common in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge, but populations have undoubtedly been adversely affected by White-Tailed Deer. Deer feed heavily on the primary host plant (E. americanus) and can eliminate or nearly eliminate local populations of the host plant where grazing pressure is high. Yponomeuta cagnagella is an introduced species that specializes on Euonymus and could potentially compete with Y. multipunctella. To date, Y. cagnagella is only known to feed on introduced ornamental Euonymus and has not shifted to native species.

 Photo Gallery for Yponomeuta multipunctella - American Ermine Moth

65 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: Richard Teper on 2022-06-16
Jackson Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2022-06-06
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2022-06-03
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2022-06-01
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Becky Watkins on 2022-05-29
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2022-05-28
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2022-05-22
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2022-05-20
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-20
Madison Co.
Comment: A communal nest with around 30 pupae. The three oak leaves that are shown were folded together and bound with silk to form a nest. The leaves were unfolded to reveal the pupae inside.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-20
Madison Co.
Comment: A communal nest with around 30 pupae. The three oak leaves that are shown were folded together and bound with silk to form a nest. The leaves were unfolded to reveal the pupae inside.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-20
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of eight pupae and a caterpillar that were in a communal nest. Note the very loosely woven cocoons that surround the pupae.
Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-05-19
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-18
Madison Co.
Comment: Larvae were pupating beneath folded leaves of Packera aurea that were in close proximity to a Euonymus americanus shrub. They apparently drop to the ground and pupate communally in groups of 2-4 larvae in a silken nest.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-18
Madison Co.
Comment: Larvae were pupating beneath folded leaves of Packera aurea that were in close proximity to a Euonymus americanus shrub. They apparently drop to the ground and pupate communally in groups of 2-4 larvae in a silken nest.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-18
Madison Co.
Comment: As seen here, larvae were pupating beneath folded leaves of Packera aurea that were in close proximity to a Euonymus americanus shrub. Leaves typically had 2-4 pupae in each silken nest and spun very thin whitish cocoons.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-12
Madison Co.
Comment: Larvae have defoliated most of the Euonymus americanus at this site.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-18
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-06-13
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2021-06-10
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2021-06-04
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-05-23
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-05-23
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-05-23
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-18
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-06-26
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-20
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-06-17
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-06-14
Buncombe Co.
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