|scientific name Paleacrita vernata |
common name Spring Cankerworm
Possibly restricted to prairie shrubland or grasslands riparian forest.
Flies during in early spring, the single Alberta record is for April 29th.
This nondescript, delicate geometrid moth is most similar to, although not closely related to, species of Operophtera, which fly in late fall. The forewing is a uniform grey to slightly mottled, with the transverse bands obscure or reduced to dark patches along the forewing costa. The slightly paler hindwing has a faint discal spot. Females are wingless.
The eggs are laid in clusters of 100 to 250 in bark crevices, and do not hatch until bud break, occasionally as much as 51 days later. Larvae feed on young foliage and are mature by late July, at which point they burrow several inches into the soil and form a hibernation chamber, pupating in late winter (McGuffin 1977, Wagner et al. 2001).
Limited distribution in Alberta but widespread (sometimes a pest) elsewhere.
A large variety of deciduous trees and shrubs, particularly maples, elms, birches and cherry (McGuffin 1977).
Atlantic seaboard west to Alberta, Texas and California. Sporadic in the southern part of the Prairie Provinces (McGuffin 1977).
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