Spurge Hawkmoths

Recently (Aug 29) Diane Miller noticed a large number (20+) of big colorful caterpillars on an ornamental spurge in Platte County. After doing some research we decided they were Spurge Hawkmoths (Celerio euphorbiae), European cousins of our abundant (Celerio lineata). Steve Spomer verified our determination. According to Steve (who keeps Sphnix Moth distribution maps for the state) the moth has now been found in 11 Nebraska counties, the majority of which are in the northeast corner of the state. Beginning in the 1960s these moths were introduced into the US (along with other moths, midges, and flea and stem boring beetles) in an attempt to control leafy spurge, a noxious exotic plant that is poisonous to cattle and quickly displaces native vegetation in rangeland. The moth, by itself, has not proven to be an effective control agent against leafy spurge but, with other management practices, remains a tool in the land managers arsenal.

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