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bag worm moth empty pupal case

Empty House: the empty pupal case of a bagworm moth, family Psychidae, genus Dahlica.

The Psychidae, the family of moths known as “bagworms” for the larval mobile homes they construct, make you want to learn more about them. The above shot shows the empty pupal case of a male moth that has wriggled its way out of its protective case and undoubtedly has begun to follow a pheromone trail to a female. You might be wondering how I know it is a male. The key point there is that females remain in their bags, eventually laying their eggs inside them as well. Apparently the males prove that you can’t go home again, and the females prove that you only come from one place. They sort of make the case for living at home, too. (I now apologize for that. You can find an extraordinary series of images on BugGuide showing the different forms and stages that a Psychidae moth goes through.) This particular species, Dahlica triquetrella, occurs in fairly strong numbers on the split rail fence right by the house. There is a little more noticeable contrast in colors of the bag as seen in the photo than perhaps in actuality, but you can see that they blend in rather well, which presumably comes from using fibers from the wooden fence to create their bags. Some use more conspicuous materials, like pine needles or other long protruding fibers, and they will stick out prominently along smooth sides of fences or building.

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