Camouflage of a Dried up Dead Leaf
The Canadian Owlet Moth is a rather undetected moth here in Tennessee. The reason is that they are so adept at camouflage, appearing to be a dried up dead leaf. They are more numerous in the Northern parts of the United States, as the name suggests, but we do have them as natural inhabitants of Nashville, Tennessee. If you have sharp eyesight and know the shape that you are looking for, you might just spot one in your back yard. They are brown in color and have a V like shape when in the resting position with wings up. They have a wingspan of up to 1 ½” and body length ranging from ¾” to 1 ½”. They do inhabit most of the United States and Canada except for the most Western portions of both countries.
The Canadian Owlet Moth carries another trait that makes them hard to spot; they are nocturnal. Therfore you now know where the name is derived from. Most species only produce one generation per year, so you will see them out looking for a mate, or foraging for food. They mate once, then have an overwintering generation for the next spring. Their diet consists mainly of live or dead foliage, nectar and honeydew. Some species have been known to harm crops by piercing into fruit to eat and thus damaging the gardener’s hard work. The species with the most fear inspiring reputation lives in Malaysia. It is known to feed like a bat, by biting into the skin of animals and being a blood sucker. Though this species is indeed real, but we do not have that worry with our relatively harmless species of Canadian Owlet Moth living here in Tennessee.
Bats are natural predators of the Owlet Moth since they are both nocturnal. However the Owlet Moth has tympanal organs that can pick up the sonar produced by a bat looking for food. So they can run and hide when they hear a bat on the prowl. However it is their other forms of defense that is most interesting. Although they hide with camouflage, they also carry three forms of chemical warfare as protection. They use an Alkaloid, a Formic Acid and then a chemical that they use as perimeter control. Yes this perimeter control is not only gross but effective. It is distributed around their area by actually vomiting up chemicals found in the plants that they feed on. This repels other predators from getting too close and producing a threat.
In other countries the Canadian Owlet Moth and other related species are major garden and crop pests. However here in Tennessee, we do not have much of a problem, other than looking for telltale signs of them with broken stems at the base. They never really reach infestation levels in our gardens, so they are really another interesting insect to try and spot locally here in Nashville, Tennessee. Now, if you do have a Nashville Pest Control Problem, please call your local born and raised Nashville Family – Certified Pest Control Nashville. We offer the detailed and honest service you would expect from a locally owned and operated pest prevention service. Call and ask about our year round protection plan. We would love to explain how affordable it is to keep those pesky home invaders where they belong – outside.