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American Oak Skeletonizer moth invades Europe
Date:11/19/2012

Netherlands and Belgium had seen or collected the moth before, but were unable to identify it correctly. The earliest specimens of Bucculatrix ainsliella were found in the Netherlands as early as 1989, as was shown by overlooked specimens in the collection of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. They were found in Amersfoort, a city close to a former NATO air base. It is very well possible that the small cocoons (with pupae) of the species, attached to any object, were transported by air. The emerging moths could immediately find their favourite food in the many Red Oaks that are planted in the Netherlands close to the airbase.

The larva of the newly discovered moth makes small leafmines in the oak leaves and later starts feeding on the leaf underside, eating the green tissue and leaving the veins intact. The effect of this feeding lead to the English name "Oak Skeletonizer". The caterpillar later makes a beautiful white ribbed cocoon that it fastens on leaves, trunks or any other item in its way. The small moth (wingspan 8 to 9 mm) can be found from April to October, and is attracted to light during the night.


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Contact: Astrid Kromhout
astrid.kromhout@naturalis.nl
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Source:Eurekalert

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