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280 days of Urbpandemonium #124

 photo IMGP2257_zps3ltjeiz0.jpg
You would be forgiven if you thought this little orange and white moth had a bit of a tropical look to it. In fact, it's thought to native to Florida and points south, its caterpillar feeding on a tropical plant called a paradise tree. So what is it doing in the temperate urban forest of Boston? It turns out that another plant, the tree-of-heaven Ailanthus altissima, is suitable food. That turns out to be great luck for the moth now called the Ailanthus webworm Atteva aurea* since the tree-of-heaven is an invasive urban dweller that cracks sidewalks and colonizes vacant lots. The moth can't tolerate our nasty winters, and so migrates up from Florida each summer.



*Atteva = Origin unclear. Speculation: perhaps from Modern English (though obsolete, and dialectical) atter, that from Old English aettor poison, pus, plus Greek suffix eu (or ev) good, well, with an adjectival ending -a. (English atter poison is not related to adder, the snake, incidentally.) This seems semi-plausible, given that the author of the genus was English. Aurea means "golden."

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
elainetyger
Aug. 2nd, 2015 02:02 am (UTC)
Ailanthus is my least favorite tree.

Ciao, bella! Mangia!
buboniclou
Aug. 2nd, 2015 03:24 pm (UTC)
Yes! They gave me the worst rash of my life. I frigging hate those things, and even kinda resent their being "the tree [that] grows in Brooklyn."
buboniclou
Aug. 2nd, 2015 03:25 pm (UTC)
I wonder what their original summer food was?
urbpan
Aug. 2nd, 2015 03:36 pm (UTC)
Do you guys know each other? You both live in the NYC area, so you've probably met.
buboniclou
Aug. 2nd, 2015 04:59 pm (UTC)
Bahaha! I...what?
elainetyger
Aug. 2nd, 2015 10:14 pm (UTC)
She doesn't look familiar. Unless she goes to puzzle events or board game meetups or she works in a retail food store, it's unlikely we would know each other. (Of course you're joking, but just in case, I answered.)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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