Monday, August 29, 2011

Basswood Leafroller Leaf Shelter

There are these neat leaf shelters on Basswood leaves.  These unique leaf shelters are made by the caterpillar of the Basswood Leafroller Moth - Pantographa limata.
Leaf shelter of the Basswood Leafroller - Pantographa limata
  In the photo above, notice how the leafroller cut the Basswood leaf part way through and rolled up a section of the leaf into a nice tube.  The roll (or tube) has multiple layers and the caterpillar feeds on some of these while living within the sheltering roll.. 
The roll is held together with silk.  In the picture above, there are a few strands of silk visible in the upper left of the leaf shelter.
The leafroller even closes up the lower end of its shelter with very neat fold of the leaf..
Here is a photo of the Basswood Leafroller caterpillar.
Basswood Leafroller Moth Larva - Pantographa limata
After I unrolled the leaf shelter to take a picture of the caterpillar, it promptly went to work to make another one.
Make your own house in a jiffy, and eat it cool is that?


  1. Dana, it's very cool. In my mind I was thinking about the expression, "eating you out of house and home". They must have been talking about this guy when they made that one up.

  2. Anonymous8/30/2011

    I have seen leaves rolled in a similar fashion on Witch Hazel. Do you know what type of insect would use that plant as its home?

  3. Sybil,
    That's a good one!

    There are several moth caterpillars that construct leaf shelters on Witch Hazel. Are the leaf shelters you saw, rolled or folded? Are they tied with silk?
    The rolled leaves you refered to could be from the Caloptilia superbifrontella... see fig. 12 at this link
    Or try looking at the leaf rolls of the Choristoneura rosaceana caterpillar.

  4. Anonymous9/05/2011

    I collected several different types of witch hazel leaf rolls this season, and the moths that emerged from the big, cigar-shaped rolls were all Episimus argutanus. I didn't get adults from the other types (some may be overwintering, but I'm not too optomistic about that). I'll write a blog post about witch hazel leaf rolls eventually.