Friday, December 31, 2010

Bagworm Moth Caterpillar (Family Psychidae)



Larvae (bagworms) construct spindle-shaped bags covered with pieces of twigs, leaves, etc., and remain in them -- enlarging the bags as they grow -- until they pupate (also in the bag). Adult females remain in the bag, emitting pheromones which attract adult males to mate with them.  Males become more typical moths.  (There are 26 species in 13 genera in North America.)

Eggs are laid inside the bag, and when they hatch the larvae crawl away to begin construction of their own individual cases.

Source:  BugGuide




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14 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hi Marvin. Good to see you back on your blog some. Great photos as always. Did you save these from last summer? I hope you have a great 2011. Best to Jo too.

KaHolly said...

Does the female ever leave the bag, I wonder? Reminds me of the caddis fly. Pretty amazing stuff. I love to learn new things. Happy New Year, Marvin. ~karen

Christine said...

That is fascinating! I never knew. Do you know if some of this genera lives on the west coast?

Marvin said...

Lisa: Yes, this image was from last May. Best wishes to you and yours in 2011.

Marvin said...

Karen: As I understand it, the females of this family of moths never leave the bag. Here's a photo of a male caught in the act of mating with a bag -- and I mean that in the most mothly sort of way.

Marvin said...

Christine: I'm not really sure about the range of moths in this family. I think most are eastern, but the BugGuide Data Map does show bagworms of some sort distributed across the US.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Happy New Year, Marvin and Jo.

Marvin said...

Happy New Year to you too, Pat.

Lana Gramlich said...

Interesting!
Happy New Year. My best to you & yours. :)

Marvin said...

Thanks, Lana. Hope you and Charles have a great 2011.

dreamfalcon said...

What a special bug. Thanks for sharing.

Crafty Green Poet said...

wow, what a wonderful miniature piece of artwork that bag is! How different are the bags of the different species?

Marvin said...

Thanks for visiting, dreamfalcon.

Marvin said...

Juliet: There is quite a bit of difference in bag construction materials within the bagworm family. (See here.) I think the caterpillars just use whatever materials are handy. Since food/host plants vary among species, readily available construction materials will also vary. For example, one species eats lichens and its bag is usually lichen covered. (Here) Using host plant construction materials also helps to camouflage the bag.