Alianthus webworm (Atteva aurea), Newark DE. July 2017.
Although a very pretty moth, this small insect is a harbinger of bad news in the northeastern US. The Alianthus webworm could only be found in southern Florida until the introduction of the invasive plant, Tree-of-Heaven (Alianthus altissima). As the invasive plant escaped cultivation, the moth escaped with it, and can be found in cities and suburban areas throughout the eastern US. If the moth if found on your property, it is likely that Tree-of-Heaven plants are somewhere nearby.
Caterpillars form silky webs around the leaves of Tree-of-Heaven branches and feed on the tissues within.
Multiple generations possible in the northeastern US, and increased summer temperatures may prolong the moth’s stay.