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Puriri moth - Aenetus virescens

By N A Martin (2010, revised 2016)

Classification

Phylum:
Arthropoda
Class:
Insecta
Order:
Lepidoptera
Family:
Hepialidae
Scientific Name:
Aenetus virescens (Doubleday, 1843)
  • Male puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) on a tree trunk. Image: Ruud Kleinpaste © Ruud Kleinpaste
    Male puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) on a tree trunk. Image: Ruud Kleinpaste © Ruud Kleinpaste
  • Old puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) burrow and feeding scar in a Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) tree trunk. The feeding scar has grown new bark, but the caterpillar burrow is still open. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) burrow and feeding scar in a Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) tree trunk. The feeding scar has grown new bark, but the caterpillar burrow is still open. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
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Common Names

Puriri moth
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Synonyms

Hepialus virescens Doubleday, 1843

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Biostatus and Distribution

This endemic moth is found throughout the North Island of New Zealand. It occurs in habitats with dead wood with suitable fungi for its young caterpillars and living host trees in which the larger caterpillars live in tunnels and graze callous tissue.

Conservation status: The moth occurs in natural ecosystems and parkland where suitable trees and litter and dead branches occur. It can live in adventive and cultivated trees.

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Life Stages and Annual Cycle

Moths may emerge any month of the year, although the peak months are October to December, with a second minor peak in March. The female moth, the largest moth in New Zealand, has a wing span up to 150 mm; the male is smaller with a wing span of 100 mm. Moths mainly fly in the evening. Male moths are more likely to be seen at lights.

The moths are usually green, but the intensity of colour and wing patterning is very variable. The markings of the male's forewings are white and the hind wings are greener than those of the female. Colour variations from blue-green, yellow, red and albino have been recorded.

Eggs and litter phase caterpillars
After mating, the female moth scatters eggs over the forest floor. Up to 2000 eggs may be laid. The eggs are round and pale yellow when first laid, turning black a few days later. After 12-14 days, litter phase caterpillars hatch from the eggs. The litter phase caterpillars live on the underside of bracket fungi or fungal fruiting bodies encrusting twigs and branches. They make a tunnel and feed on the fungal fruiting body, and cover their feeding areas with web covered in frass (insect droppings). The fungus feeding stage lasts two to three months, during which the caterpillar may moult (change its skin).

Transfer phase caterpillars
At the end of the litter phase, it moults (changes its skin) to a darker transfer phase caterpillar. These caterpillars locate trees, which they climb, and bore through the bark into the wood of the trunk or branch. They form a distinctive seven-shaped tunnel. The top of the ‘seven’ follows the radius of the trunk/branch and slopes upwards. The longer part of the burrow descends vertically and is where the caterpillar rests. The opening of the burrow and the area used for feeding are covered with a protective web.

Tree phase caterpillars
The transfer phase caterpillar moults to a paler tree phase caterpillar, This caterpillar is a delicate transparent purplish-pink with a hardened dark-brown head capsule. It grazes on live callus tissue that develops round the opening of the burrow. Some frass is used in the web cover, but is ejected through a hole at the bottom of the web covering. As the caterpillar grows, it enlarges its burrow. It extends the radial burrow and makes a larger vertical burrow. The establishment burrow may become blocked with frass. The mature caterpillar can grow to about 100 mm long and 15 mm in diameter. The tree phase caterpillar can live up to five years, but this stage may be as short as eight months. The mean time for male caterpillars is about two years and for females, about three years.

Pupation and moth emergence
When the caterpillar has reached full size, it first removes pieces of the web covering the feeding scar. It may make many small holes or remove the entire central portion of the web. Then the caterpillar blocks the top of the vertical burrow with a fibrous disc and pupates.New pupae may be found in every month from March to November. Pupal duration is shortest for those formed in October and November, but the mean duration is 151 days for males and 173 days for females. When the moth is ready to emerge, the pupa wriggles up the shaft, pushes up the disc and protrudes through the camouflaging web. Movement up the shaft is helped by 12 horny ridges, armed with hooklets, on the upper side of the abdomen and five similar ridges on the underside. It is not known how male and female moths find each other before mating.

  • Pinned specimens of female (top) and male (bottom) puriri moths Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) showing the relative size of the two sexes. Image: FRI photographers © Scion
    Pinned specimens of female (top) and male (bottom) puriri moths Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) showing the relative size of the two sexes. Image: FRI photographers © Scion
  • Female puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) Image: Birgit E Rhode © Landcare Research
    Female puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) Image: Birgit E Rhode © Landcare Research
  • Yellow female puriri moths, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), top view. Image: DSIR photographers © Landcare Research
    Yellow female puriri moths, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), top view. Image: DSIR photographers © Landcare Research
  • Yellow female puriri moths, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), side view. Image: DSIR photographers © Landcare Research
    Yellow female puriri moths, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), side view. Image: DSIR photographers © Landcare Research
  • A green male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
    A green male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
  • A green-blue male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
    A green-blue male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
  • A yellow male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
    A yellow male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
  • Drawings of sections through the fungal feeding tunnels of litter phase puriri moth caterpillar Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Top, simple feeding cover. Bottom, feeding surface cover extended as a cone-like protrusion. Coarse stippling, dead wood; fine stippling, fungal tissue. Image: John R. Grehan © Drawings published in New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1987, 14: 441-462, Figure 2
    Drawings of sections through the fungal feeding tunnels of litter phase puriri moth caterpillar Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Top, simple feeding cover. Bottom, feeding surface cover extended as a cone-like protrusion. Coarse stippling, dead wood; fine stippling, fungal tissue. Image: John R. Grehan © Drawings published in New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1987, 14: 441-462, Figure 2
  • Webbing of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), litter phase caterpillars covering feeding site on fungal fruiting body. Image: John R. Grehan © John R. Grehan
    Webbing of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), litter phase caterpillars covering feeding site on fungal fruiting body. Image: John R. Grehan © John R. Grehan
  • Tunnel opening of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), litter phase caterpillar; tunnel exposed by removing of webbing. Image: John R. Grehan © John R. Grehan
    Tunnel opening of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), litter phase caterpillar; tunnel exposed by removing of webbing. Image: John R. Grehan © John R. Grehan
  • Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), burrows; left, new establishment burrow, pale; right, dark mature burrow with its smaller establishment burrow. Image: DSIR photographers © Landcare Research
    Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), burrows; left, new establishment burrow, pale; right, dark mature burrow with its smaller establishment burrow. Image: DSIR photographers © Landcare Research
  • Drawings of longitudinal sections of larval puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), burrows in wood; left, in Aristotelia serrata; note that part of the feeding area is under the bark; right, in Carpodetus serratusshowing establishment burrow blocked by frass and the large burrow closed by pupal operculum. Image: John R. Grehan © Drawings published in New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1987, 14: 441-462, Figures 3 and 4
    Drawings of longitudinal sections of larval puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), burrows in wood; left, in Aristotelia serrata; note that part of the feeding area is under the bark; right, in Carpodetus serratusshowing establishment burrow blocked by frass and the large burrow closed by pupal operculum. Image: John R. Grehan © Drawings published in New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1987, 14: 441-462, Figures 3 and 4
  • Drawing of the external view of entrance to a puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillar burrow in Nothofagus solandri, showing the position of the radial tunnel and cover. Solid line, external cover; dashed line, extent of feeding surface under the bark; dotted circle, radial tunnel. Image: John R. Grehan © Drawing published in New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1987, 14: 441-462, Figure 9b
    Drawing of the external view of entrance to a puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillar burrow in Nothofagus solandri, showing the position of the radial tunnel and cover. Solid line, external cover; dashed line, extent of feeding surface under the bark; dotted circle, radial tunnel. Image: John R. Grehan © Drawing published in New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1987, 14: 441-462, Figure 9b
  • Drawing of transverse section of feeding chamber and radial tunnel of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in Nothofagus solandri. Dotted circle, longitudinal tunnel; fine stippling, cover. Image: John R. Grehan © Drawing published in New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1987, 14: 441-462, Figure 10a
    Drawing of transverse section of feeding chamber and radial tunnel of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in Nothofagus solandri. Dotted circle, longitudinal tunnel; fine stippling, cover. Image: John R. Grehan © Drawing published in New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1987, 14: 441-462, Figure 10a
  • Newly established puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillar burrow in Carpodetus serratus. The web cover has been folded down. Note the fragments of wood. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Newly established puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillar burrow in Carpodetus serratus. The web cover has been folded down. Note the fragments of wood. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), web covering feeding area on Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Note the pile of wet faeces below the entrance to the tunnel. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), web covering feeding area on Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Note the pile of wet faeces below the entrance to the tunnel. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), feeding area after web cover removed on (Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Note the pile of wet faeces below the entrance to the tunnel. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), feeding area after web cover removed on (Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Note the pile of wet faeces below the entrance to the tunnel. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Caterpillar of puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in a burrow in a stem of Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Length of the tunnel is 120 mm; length of the caterpillar is 58 mm. Image: FRI photographers © Scion
    Caterpillar of puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in a burrow in a stem of Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Length of the tunnel is 120 mm; length of the caterpillar is 58 mm. Image: FRI photographers © Scion
  • Fully grown caterpillar of the puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in a stem of Nothofagus menziesii (silver beech). Note the cap sealing the entrance to the vertical shaft. Image: FRI photographers © Scion
    Fully grown caterpillar of the puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in a stem of Nothofagus menziesii (silver beech). Note the cap sealing the entrance to the vertical shaft. Image: FRI photographers © Scion
  • Pupa of the puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in a stem of Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Length of this pupa is 55 mm. Image: FRI photographers © Scion
    Pupa of the puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in a stem of Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Length of this pupa is 55 mm. Image: FRI photographers © Scion
  • Empty pupal skin of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), dorsal (upper photo) and ventral (lower photo) views. Note the split skin through which the moth emerged. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Empty pupal skin of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), dorsal (upper photo) and ventral (lower photo) views. Note the split skin through which the moth emerged. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Pupal skin of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae): abdominal ridges that help the pupa to work its way out of its burrow. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Pupal skin of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae): abdominal ridges that help the pupa to work its way out of its burrow. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Pupal skin of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae); the tough, black head of the pupa has coarse ridges. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Pupal skin of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae); the tough, black head of the pupa has coarse ridges. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), just emerged from its pupa; note the empty pupal case protruding from the hole in the tree branch. Image: John R. Grehan © John R. Grehan
    Male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), just emerged from its pupa; note the empty pupal case protruding from the hole in the tree branch. Image: John R. Grehan © John R. Grehan
  • Male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), just emerged from its pupa and hanging to dry its wings. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), just emerged from its pupa and hanging to dry its wings. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
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Recognition

The moth’s large size and distinctive colouring makes it easily recognisable. The characteristic damage to trees also makes the presence of old feeding sites easy to recognise. Active feeding sites are less easy to detect because of the camouflaged webbing. The fungal-feeding, litter phase caterpillars are the most difficult stage to detect because potential sites are more difficult to find unless deliberately sought out and because the feeding sites are covered by webbing.

  • Male puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) on a tree trunk. Image: Ruud Kleinpaste © Ruud Kleinpaste
    Male puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) on a tree trunk. Image: Ruud Kleinpaste © Ruud Kleinpaste
  • Female puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Birgit E Rhode © Landcare Research
    Female puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Birgit E Rhode © Landcare Research
  • A green male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
    A green male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
  • A green-blue male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
    A green-blue male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
  • A yellow male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
    A yellow male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Image: Robert Hoare © Robert Hoare
  • Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), web covering feeding area on Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Note the pile of wet faeces below the entrance to the tunnel. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), web covering feeding area on Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Note the pile of wet faeces below the entrance to the tunnel. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), feeding area after web cover removed on (Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Note the pile of wet faeces below the entrance to the tunnel. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), feeding area after web cover removed on (Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Note the pile of wet faeces below the entrance to the tunnel. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • On some trees the feeding scars and burrows of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), are grown over, e.g. a healthy Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    On some trees the feeding scars and burrows of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), are grown over, e.g. a healthy Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Old puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) burrow and feeding scar in a Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) tree trunk. The feeding scar has grown new bark, but the caterpillar burrow is still open. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old puriri moth Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) burrow and feeding scar in a Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) tree trunk. The feeding scar has grown new bark, but the caterpillar burrow is still open. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of  Kunzea ericoides  (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Kunzea ericoides (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Active feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Active feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Active feeding site of a newly established burrow of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Active feeding site of a newly established burrow of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
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Natural Enemies

Pathogens and predators of puriri moths are known, but no parasitoids have been found.

Predators
Moreporks (ruru, small owls) and native bats are reported to catch flying moths. Possums and cats will also eat moths. Kaka tear at wood to try to reach caterpillars in tree branches. Dr. Miller reports that Maori also used puriri moth larvae which they called ngutara, a name also used for other wood-boring larvae.

Pathogens
Dr Grehan in his extensive study of puriri moth found three fungi and bacterium, Bacillus sp., infesting caterpillars and pupae. The only definitely named fungus, Cordyceps bassiana kills the caterpillars and forms a mass of fluffy white fruiting body extending over the larval feeding area. One unnamed fungal disease kills larvae and pupae, while another unnamed species kills pupae and forms distinctive forms finger-like coremia that protrude out of the tunnel.

Table: Natural enemies of Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), from Plant- SyNZ database (19 May 2015). The reliability index shows the quality of evidence for the host association (0-10, 10=high quality).
Scientific NameCommon NameClassificationEnemy TypeReliabilityBiostatus
Bacillus sp. (milky disease)Milky disease (Bacterium)Bacillales: Paenibacillaceaepathogen7endemic
Cordyceps bassiana Z.Z. Li, C.R. Li, B. Huang & M.Z. Fan, 2001 (Fungus)Hypocreales: Cordycipitaceaepathogen10native
Cordyceps gunnii (Berk.) (Fungus)Hypocreales: Cordycipitaceaepathogen7native
Ophiocordyceps robertsii (Hook.) (Fungus)Hypocreales: Ophiocordycipitaceaepathogen1native
Felis catus Linnaeus, 1758Cat (Mammal)Carnivora: Felidaepredator10adventive
Mustela erminea Linnaeus, 1758Stoat (Mammal)Carnivora: Mustelidaepredator10adventive
Mystacina tuberculata GrayShort-tailed bat (Mammal)Chiroptera: Mystacinidaepredator10endemic
Nestor meridionalis (Gmelin, 1788)North Island kaka (Bird)Psittaciformes: Nestoridaeomnivore10endemic
Ninox novaeseelandiae (Gmelin, 1788)Morepork (Bird)Strigiformes: Strigidaepredator10endemic
Rattus exulans (Peale, 1848Polynesian rat (Mammal)Rodentia: Muridaeomnivore10adventive
Trichosurus vulpecula (Kerr, 1792)Possum (Mammal)Marsupialia: Phalangeridaeomnivore10adventive
Vespula germanica (Fabricius, 1793)German wasp (Wasp)Hymenoptera: Vespidaepredator9adventive
  • Diagrams illustrating the position and form of diseased puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillars. Image: JR Grehan and PJ Wrigley © Drawings published in New Zealand Entomologist, 1984, 8: 61-63, Figs 1-4
    Diagrams illustrating the position and form of diseased puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillars. Image: JR Grehan and PJ Wrigley © Drawings published in New Zealand Entomologist, 1984, 8: 61-63, Figs 1-4
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Host Plants

The newly hatched (neonate) caterpillars live on fungi. Larger caterpillars live in the trunk and branches of a wide variety of trees and shrubs. Host plants include native, naturalised, and cultivated species.

The caterpillar damages the tree by making radial and vertical burrows in live wood, in which the body of the caterpillar rests. At the entrance to the burrow, they graze on the cambium, forming a diamond-shaped feeding scar. They cover the scar and burrow with a tough web that is coloured like the bark of the tree. After the moth has left the pupa, the hole may grow over or remain open. The vertical burrows remain after the caterpillar has left and the defect reduces the usefulness of the wood as a timber. Heavy infestations can weaken the tree, especially those with thin trunks.

Caterpillars can also infest non-host trees, such as cherry (Prunus) and Eucalyptus. The caterpillar is killed by gum flooding the burrow.

Table: Host plants of the Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) from Plant-SyNZ database (16 May 2016). The reliability score shows the quality of evidence for the host association (1-10, 10=high).
Common Name(s)Scientific NameFamilyReliability IndexBiostatus
Smoky bracketBjerkandera adusta (Willd.: Fr.) Karst.Meruliaceae10non-endemic
 Echinochaete russiceps (Berk. & Broome) D.A. ReidPolyporaceae10non-endemic
 Fomes hemitephrus (Berk.) CookePolyporaceae10non-endemic
 'Irpex' sp.Steccherinaceae7unknown
 Junghuhnia nitida (Pers.) RyvardenSteccherinaceae10non-endemic
 Phellinus ferreus (Pers.) Bourdot & GalzinHymenochaetaceae10non-endemic
 Schizopora nothofagi (G. Cunn.) P.K. Buchanan & RyvardenSchizoporaceae10endemic
 Tremella sp.Tremellaceae7unknown
Blackwood, Tasmanian blackwoodAcacia melanoxylon R.Br.Leguminosae8naturalised
New Zealand ash, Tapitapi, Tītoki, Tītongi, Tokitoki, Tongitongi, TopitopiAlectryon excelsus Gaertn.Sapindaceae10endemic
Wineberry, Mako, MakomakoAristotelia serrata (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) W.R.B.OliverElaeocarpaceae10endemic
Buddleia, Butterfly bush, Summer lilacBuddleja davidii Franch.Scrophulariaceae10naturalised
Marble leaf, Motorbike tree, Kaiwētā, Piripiriwhata, Punawētā, Putaputawētā, PutawētāCarpodetus serratus J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Rousseaceae10endemic
Beefwood, She-oakCasuarina sp.Casuarinaceae7unknown
Kākawariki, Kanono, Kapukiore, Karamū-kueo, Kueo (fruit), Manono, Pāpāuma, Raurēkau, ToherāoaCoprosma grandifolia Hook.f.Rubiaceae5endemic
Tree tutu, Pūhou, Tāweku, Tūpākihi, TutuCoriaria arborea Linds.Coriariaceae5endemic
Bentham's cornel, Himalayan strawberry tree, Strawberry dogwoodCornus capitata Wall.Cornaceae10naturalised
CotoneasterCotoneaster glaucophyllus Franch.Rosaceae10naturalised
Hawthorn, Neapolitan medlar, White hawthornCrataegus monogyna Jacq.Rosaceae10naturalised
Cedar of Goa, Mexican cypress, Portuguese cypressCupressus lusitanica Mill.Cupressaceae8naturalised
Red escalloniaEscallonia rubra (Ruiz & Pav.) Pers.Escalloniaceae8naturalised
Brown barrel, Cut tailEucalyptus fastigata H.Deane & MaidenMyrtaceae6naturalised
Giant gum, Mountain ash, Stringy gum, Swamp gumEucalyptus regnans F. Muell.Myrtaceae8naturalised
Sydney blue gumEucalyptus saligna Sm.Myrtaceae10naturalised
Common beech, European beechFagus sylvatica L.Fagaceae10cultivated
Ash, Common ash, European ashFraxinus excelsior L.Oleaceae10naturalised
Red beech, Hutu, Hututawai, Raunui, Tawai, TawhaiFuscospora fusca (Hook.f.) Heenan & SmissenNothofagaceae10endemic
Black beech, Tawhai raurikiFuscospora solandri (Hook.f.) Heenan & SmissenNothofagaceae10endemic
Hard beech, Hutu, Hututawai, Tawhai raunuiFuscospora truncata (Colenso) Heenan & SmissenNothofagaceae10endemic
Broadleaf, Huariki (fruit), Kāpuka, Māihīhi, Pāpāuma, Paraparauma, TapatapaumaGriselinia littoralis RaoulGriseliniaceae10endemic
Akakōpuka, Akapuka, Puka, PukateaGriselinia lucida G.Forst.Griseliniaceae10endemic
Lacebark, Hohere, Hoihere, Houhere, Houhi, Houhi ongaonga, Houī, Ongaonga, Whauahi, WheuhiHoheria populnea A.CunnMalvaceae10endemic
Graceful lacebark, Lacebark, Houhere, HouhiongaongaHoheria sexstylosa ColensoMalvaceae10endemic
Black walnut, California walnutJuglans nigra L.Juglandaceae10cultivated
White tea tree, Kānuka, Kōpuka, Manuea, Mānuka, Mānuka-rauriki, Mārū, Rauiri, RauwiriKunzea ericoides (A.Rich.) Joy Thomps.Myrtaceae10non-endemic
Red tea tree, Tea tree, Kahikātoa, Kātoa, Mānuka, Pata, Rauiri, RauwiriLeptospermum scoparium J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Myrtaceae10non-endemic
Tall mingimingi, Hukihukiraho, Kaikaiatua, Mānuka-rauriki, Mikimiki, Mingi, Mingimingi, Ngohungohu, TūmingiLeucopogon fasciculatus (G.Forst.) A.Rich.Ericaceae10endemic
Broadleaf privet, Tree privetLigustrum lucidum W.T.AitonOleaceae10naturalised
Chinese privet, Small-leaf privetLigustrum sinense Lour.Oleaceae10naturalised
Silver beech, Tawai, TawhaiLophozonia menziesii (Hook.f.) Heenan & SmissenNothofagaceae10endemic
Apple, Crab-appleMalus ×domestica Borkh.Rosaceae10naturalised
Whiteywood, Hinahina, Inaina, Inihina, Māhoe, Moeahu, KaiwetaMelicytus ramiflorus J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Violaceae1non-endemic
NgaioMyoporum laetum G.Forst.Scrophulariaceae10endemic
Coastal maire, MaireNestegis apetala (Vahl) L.A.S.JohnsonOleaceae10non-endemic
Black maire, Maire, Maire raunui, PauNestegis cunninghamii (Hook.f.) L.A.S.JohnsonOleaceae10endemic
White maire, Maire, Maire raunui, Maire raurikiNestegis lanceolata (Hook.f.) L.A.S.JohnsonOleaceae10endemic
Narrow-leaved maire, Maire kōtae, Maire rauriki, Maire roro, Maire rōroro, RōroroNestegis montana (Hook.f.) L.A.S.JohnsonOleaceae10endemic
OliveOlea europaea L.Oleaceae10naturalised
Akewharangi, Heketara, Ngungu, Taraheke, Tātaraheke, Wharangi-piroOlearia rani (A. Cunn.) DruceCompositae5endemic
 Paulownia elongata S.Y. HuPaulowniaceae10cultivated
Ahikōmau, Hine-kaikōmako, Kahikōmako, KaikōmakoPennantia corymbosa J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Pennantiaceae5endemic
New Zealand hazel, Nonokia, Nonorangi, TainuiPomaderris apetala Labill.Rhamnaceae10non-endemic
CherryPrunus sp. 'cherry'Rosaceae4naturalised
Alpine pepper tree, Mountain horopito, Pepper tree, Red horopito, Horopito, ōramarama, RamaramaPseudowintera colorata (Raoul) DandyWinteraceae10endemic
Common oak, English oak, Oak, Truffle oakQuercus robur L.Fagaceae10naturalised
Red oakQuercus rubra L.Fagaceae10naturalised
Westland quintiniaQuintinia acutifolia KirkParacryphiaceae7endemic
Quintinia, Kūmarahou, TāwheowheoQuintinia serrata A.Cunn.Paracryphiaceae10endemic
 Raukaua simplex (G.Forst.) A.D.Mitch., Frodin & Heads var. sinclairii (Hook.f.) A.D.Mitch., Frodin & HeadsAraliaceae10endemic
Evergreen buckthorn, Italian buckthornRhamnus alaternus L.Rhamnaceae10naturalised
English elmUlmus procera Salisb.Ulmaceae10cultivated
New Zealand oak, Kauere, PūririVitex lucens KirkLabiatae10endemic
Kāmahi, Tawhero, TōwaiWeinmannia racemosa L.f.Cunoniaceae5endemic
  • Newly established tree phase puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillar burrow in a cherry tree. Note the wood fragments attached to the web cover. During the following winter, tree gum oozed out of the burrow. The following summer, the tree had grown over the feeding scar and hole (right). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Newly established tree phase puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillar burrow in a cherry tree. Note the wood fragments attached to the web cover. During the following winter, tree gum oozed out of the burrow. The following summer, the tree had grown over the feeding scar and hole (right). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • The site of a newly established puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) burrow in a cherry tree. During the winter following establishment, tree gum oozed out of the burrow. The following summer, the tree had grown over the feeding scar and hole. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    The site of a newly established puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) burrow in a cherry tree. During the winter following establishment, tree gum oozed out of the burrow. The following summer, the tree had grown over the feeding scar and hole. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Old pupal case of a puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), protruding from burrow in a puriri tree, Vitex lucens. Note how the web cover now has holes. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old pupal case of a puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), protruding from burrow in a puriri tree, Vitex lucens. Note how the web cover now has holes. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • On some trees the feeding scars and burrows of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), are grown over, e.g. a healthy Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    On some trees the feeding scars and burrows of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), are grown over, e.g. a healthy Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • On some trees the feeding scars and burrows of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) remain exposed, e.g. Nestegis Montana). The open holes may be colonised by insects. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    On some trees the feeding scars and burrows of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) remain exposed, e.g. Nestegis Montana). The open holes may be colonised by insects. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Some trees, such as Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) may suffer heavy infestations of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). An example of many burrow openings and feeding scars. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Some trees, such as Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) may suffer heavy infestations of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). An example of many burrow openings and feeding scars. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Some trees, such as Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta)  may suffer heavy infestations of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae); an example of damaged wood in a split trunk. Image: DSIR photographers © Landcare Research
    Some trees, such as Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) may suffer heavy infestations of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae); an example of damaged wood in a split trunk. Image: DSIR photographers © Landcare Research
  • Puriri moth , Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillars feeding in thin tree trunks can almost ring bark the tree. This Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) sapling survived. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Puriri moth , Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillars feeding in thin tree trunks can almost ring bark the tree. This Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta) sapling survived. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillars feeding under webbing on trunk of Cotoneaster glaucophyllus (Rosaceae).  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), caterpillars feeding under webbing on trunk of Cotoneaster glaucophyllus (Rosaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
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Control

Puriri moths are part of the biodiversity of native ecosystems. Where host trees grow in native ecosystems, the moth should be accepted. There are, however, some circumstances where control could be justified.

For single specimen trees, puriri moth caterpillars can be killed by injecting insecticide into their burrows.

In orchards and tree collections, the risk of infestations can be reduced by keeping the ground clean of any dead wood on which fungi can grow and develop. This prevents the young fungal-feeding litter phase caterpillars from establishing. For information about reducing risk to forest trees go to www.nzffa.org.nz/farm-forestry-model/the-essentials/forest-health-pests-and-diseases/Pests/Puriri-moth/Puriri-mothEnt16

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Additional Information

Behaviour of moths
It is not known how male and female moths find each other for mating. The male moth has brush organs on the tibia of the hind leg. Other moths of the family Hepialidae that have brush organs show courtship; the males fly in groups at dusk and the females fly to them for copulation. It is believed that the males emit a pheromone that attracts the female moths. Mating has not been observed for puriri moths, but probably occurs after dark.

Sometimes many male moths gather at lights at night. Is emergence of moths synchronised and if so how?

Insects associated with pupal skins
When a moth leaves its pupal skin, it excretes all the waste that has accumulated during the pupal stage. An intact pupal skin with brown waste liquid present had hover fly larvae living in it. Several kinds of hover fly have larvae that live in wet decaying matter. The adult female fly was probably attracted to the smell of the waste liquid.

Insects associated with empty tree burrows
Other insects and spiders colonise the vacated puriri moth burrows. Some insects such as weta are reported to stop the tree growing over the hole by chewing the edge of the opening. Māori knew that weta inhabited puriri moth burrows and named Carpodetus serratus putaputaweta, because it often had many weta living in it.

Impact on North Island beech forests
In the North Island, puriri moths cause damage to beech trees. The damage to the wood lowers the value of beech as a timber tree in the North Island and makes it less valuable to fell. Through its damage to the timber, did puriri moth save many North Island beech forests from clear felling?

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Bug Signs

Metal outdoor signs are available for placement in reserves, Regional and National parks, urban parks and school grounds. They can be bought from Metal Images Ltd, www.metalimage.co.nz/bushbirdandbug.html. They come in two sizes, 100 x 200 mm, 194 x 294 mm. The signs can be bought ready mounted on a stand that need to be ‘planted’ in the ground, or they can be bought unmounted with holes for fixing into your own mounts.

The signs for Puriri moth are best placed near trees with the distinctive damage to trunks and/or branches. Trees commonly, exhibiting damage include, puriri, lacebark (Hoheria species) and Carpodetus serratus (Marble leaf, Putaputawētā). Trees with puriri moth damage usually live for many years.

  • Large Bug Sign (5003) for  Aenetus virescens, Puriri moth, 194 x 294 mm. Image: Metal Images Ltd © Metal Images Ltd & Entomological Society of New Zealand
    Large Bug Sign (5003) for Aenetus virescens, Puriri moth, 194 x 294 mm. Image: Metal Images Ltd © Metal Images Ltd & Entomological Society of New Zealand
  • Small Bug Sign (5003) for  Aenetus virescens, Puriri moth, 100 x 200 mm.  Image: Metal Images Ltd © Metal Images Ltd & Entomological Society of New Zealand
    Small Bug Sign (5003) for Aenetus virescens, Puriri moth, 100 x 200 mm. Image: Metal Images Ltd © Metal Images Ltd & Entomological Society of New Zealand
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Information Sources

Dugdale JS 1994. Hepialidae (Insecta: Lepidoptera). Fauna of New Zealand 30: 1-164.

Early J 2009. Know your New Zealand insects & spiders. Northcote, Auckland, New Zealand, New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd. 176 p.

Grehan JR 1987a. Life cycle of the wood-borer Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 14: 209-217.

Grehan JR 1987b. Evolution of arboreal tunnelling by larvae of Aenetus (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 14: 441-462.

Grehan JR 1988. Fungal and vascular plant polysaccharide digestion by larvae of Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). New Zealand Entomologist 11: 57-67.

Grehan JR 2009. Ghost moth (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) research and discovery in the Southwest Pacific. Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences 38: 17-29.

Grehan JR, Wigley PJ 1984. Fungal and bacterial diseases of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), larvae. New Zealand Entomologist 8: 61-63.

www.nzffa.org.nz/farm-forestry-model/the-essentials/forest-health-pests-and-diseases/Pests/Puriri-moth/Puriri-mothEnt16 (describes impact on wood quality).

www.nzffa.org.nz/farm-forestry-model/the-essentials/forest-health-pests-and-diseases/Pests/Puriri-moth/Puriri-MothFHnews162 (early reports of puriri moth damage to trees).

Plant-SyNZ: Invertebrate herbivore-host plant association database. plant-synz.landcareresearch.co.nz/.

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Acknowledgements

John Grehan for photographs and illustrations.

John Bain for providing the photographs from Scion

Robert Hoare for photographs of moths and information.

Ruud Kleinpaste for a photograph of a moth.

Eric Scott for helpful suggestions.

The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited (Plant & Food Research) for permission to use photographs.

Landcare Research New Zealand Limited (Landcare Research) for permission to use photographs.

New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited (Scion) for permission to use photographs.

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Other Images

  • Old feeding scar and hole of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Leucopogon fasciculatus (Epacridaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Old feeding scar and hole of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Leucopogon fasciculatus (Epacridaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of ngaio, Myoporum laetum (Myoporaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of ngaio, Myoporum laetum (Myoporaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of ngaio, Myoporum laetum (Myoporaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of ngaio, Myoporum laetum (Myoporaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Healed feeding of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in an aerial root of Griselinia lucida (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin)
    Healed feeding of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in an aerial root of Griselinia lucida (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin)
  • Feeding scar of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Nestegis lanceolata (Oleaceae), note the spiders web in the hole originally used by the caterpillar. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Feeding scar of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Nestegis lanceolata (Oleaceae), note the spiders web in the hole originally used by the caterpillar. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Nestegis montana (Oleaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Nestegis montana (Oleaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Nestegis montana (Oleaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Nestegis montana (Oleaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Webbing covered feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Quintinia serrata (Grossulariaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Webbing covered feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Quintinia serrata (Grossulariaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Quintinia serrata (Grossulariaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Quintinia serrata (Grossulariaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in trunk of Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Active feeding site of a newly established burrow of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Active feeding site of a newly established burrow of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Active feeding site of a newly established burrow of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Active feeding site of a newly established burrow of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Active feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae) Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Active feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae) Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae). © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in branch of Griselinia littoralis (Cornaceae). © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in aerial root of Griselinia lucida (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Old feeding site of puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), in aerial root of Griselinia lucida (Cornaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), just emerged from its pupa and hanging to dry its wings. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), just emerged from its pupa and hanging to dry its wings. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), just emerged from its pupa and hanging to dry its wings. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Male puriri moth, Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae), just emerged from its pupa and hanging to dry its wings. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
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Update History

6 June 2016. NA Martin. Recognition: added photos of moth and external tree damage. Other Images: images added. Host plants: names of host fungi added. Natural enemies: list of pathogens and predators added. Details of Bug Signs added.

26 July 2010. NA Martin. Caption for Image\3CL: female to male. Annual cycle: added pre-pupation web removal by caterpillar.

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Suggested Citation

Martin NA. 2010, revised 2016. Puriri moth - Aenetus virescens. Interesting Insects and other Invertebrates. New Zealand Arthropod Factsheet Series Number 13. http://nzacfactsheets.landcareresearch.co.nz/Index.html. Date Accessed. ISSN 1179-643X.

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