Habitat: from Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Illinois and Mississippi
Status: No Conservation Concerns
This tiny creature is the Chinquapin Leaf-miner Moth (Dyseriocrania griseocapitella) – it reminds me of the Rainbow Fish (loved that book!) due to its elaborately inlaid purple and blue scales scattered across its otherwise rather bland-looking wings.
Adult males only have a wingspan of between 10-13mm and females are anywhere from 9-12.5mm. You’re probably going to have to get up close and personal with this moth to really check out its beauty… and fluffiness! Not only is it special because of its jewel-like bedazzlement, but its also incredibly cute (and furry) when looked at super close!
Quite the hairstyle for a Leaf-miner moth. Speaking of, they are called ‘leaf-miners’ because the larvae of the moth, well, ‘mine’ the leaf tissue and feast on it. Not only does this tactic allow for lots of yummy leaf eating, but it also keeps the larvae safe and sound by utilizing the host plant’s natural defenses against predators.
After the moth larvae has successfully mined the leaf and created a serpentine-shaped tunnel, the mine broadens to form a large, somewhat inflated blotch. That’s when the full-grown larvae drop from the tree and burrow into the soil where they will form a cocoon and await their transformation from a little worm-like creature to the moth you see here!