squash vine borer

(Melittia cucurbitae)

               
Hodges #

2536

squash vine borer
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common

Flight/Season

One generation per year. Mid-June to August

Habitat

 

Size

Total Length: (17 mm)

Wingspan: 1 to 1¼ (28 to 32 mm)

Photo by Alfredo Colon
 
Identification

Squash vine borer is a colorful, wasp mimicking, clearwing moth. It occurs in the eastern half of the United States, in southern Mexico, and in southern Ontario and Quebec, Canada. In Minnesota it is restricted to the southern half of the state. It is a serious agricultural pest of gourd (Family Cucurbitaceae) crops, especially zucchini and Hubbard-type squashes.

Adults are (17 mm) long and have a wingspan of 1 to 1¼ (28 to 32 mm). They are said to resemble a wasp but do not have a constricted waist and have very different antennae.

The pair of small, finger-like processes (labial palps) curving up from the lower part of the head are long, extending well beyond the middle of the face. The antennae are black with an irregular white streak above in the outer (distal) half.

The forewings are long, narrow, rounded at the tip, black, and fringed with olive-green. The hindwings are much broader and have a large area that is transparent, completely free of scales. The rear margin of the forewing and the front margin of the hindwing each have a row of interlocking spines.

The thorax is dark gray. The abdomen is mostly dull orange except for the first two segments, which are entirely dark olive green. There is a large, squarish, black dot at the front margin in the middle (middorsal) of segments 4, 5, 6 and 7.

The legs are mostly black with narrow white bands. The third segment (femur) of the front legs is orange on the upper side. On the middle and hind legs, the femur has a dense fringe of long orange hairs, and the fourth segment (tibia) has a dense fringe of long black hairs.

The larvae are white and have a brown head. They are rarely seen outside of the vine.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Larval Food

Vines of plants in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), especially zucchini and Hubbard-type squashes, but also acorn and butternut squashes, gourds, and pumpkin.

 
Adult Food

Flower nectar

 
Life Cycle

The female deposits eggs singly on stems and leaves of host plants. The egg hatches in 10 to 15 days and the larva immediately bores into the vine. About four weeks later, the mature larva drops off the plant and burrows into the soil. The larva overwinters in the soil. It pupates in the spring and an adult emerges in mid-to late June.

 
Behavior

Adults are active during the day and rest at night.

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 21, 24, 29, 30, 75, 82.

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Order:

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)

 

Suborder:

Glossata

 

Infraorder:

Neolepidoptera

 

Parvorder:

Heteroneura

 

No Rank:

Ditrysia

 

No Rank:

Apoditrysia

 

Superfamily:

Sesioidea

 

Family:

Sesiidae (clear-winged moths)

 

Subfamily:

Sesiinae

 

Tribe:

Melittiini

 

Genus:

Melittia

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

squash vine borer (larva)

squash vine borer moth (adult)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Femur

On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.

 

Palp

Short for pedipalp`. A segmented, finger-like process of an arthropod; one is attached to each maxilla and two are attached to the labium. They function as sense organs in spiders and weapons in scorpions. Plural: palpi.

 

Tibia

The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Alfredo Colon
       

Strange Moth

  squash vine borer   squash vine borer
       
  squash vine borer    
       

It is a beauty !

  squash vine borer   squash vine borer
       
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Other Videos
 
  Squash Vine Borer Nectaring (Melittia cucurbitae)
Mona Miller
 
   
 
About

Jul 8, 2015

Hobbyists are welcome to learn more about creating habitat and rearing butterflies and moths, please join our conservation group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/butterflyandmothconservation/

   
       
  Squash Vine Borer Moth (Melittia cucurbitae)
ProjectHEALCreekRun
 
   
 
About

Jun 18, 2012

This is a squash vine borer moth visiting some milkweed in our garden. Its movement and color mimic a wasp or bee.

   
       

 

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Alfredo Colon
8/15/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

squash vine borer


Alfredo Colon
8/14/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

squash vine borer


 
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Created: 2/1/2020

Last Updated:

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