Secusio extensa – fireweed biocontrol moth

A Secusio extensa moth on a yarrow plant.A Secusio extensa moth on a yarrow plant.
While out on a walk, I came across a patch of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and thought the patterns made by the flowers would make a good photo. So I chose an individual plant to focus on and by good fortune found this moth hanging off the side.

The moth is Secusio extensa (I’ve also seen it referred to as Galtara extensa) and it hails from Madagascar. While this begins to smack of another invasive species, in fact this moth was deliberately introduced to the Hawaii in 2012. The reason for that is that the moth’s larvae feed on fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) and fireweed is a truly bad invasive species here. Besides spreading in a prolific manner, it’s poisonous to livestock.

What I particularly liked about this individual was that it appeared to be enraptured by the yarrow plant, bobbing its head up and down continuously. I also loved its comb-like antennae, which are more properly known as pectinate antennae.

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