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Entomology Moths (Heterocera)

Larval Host Plant: Redcedar

Redcedar, which belong to the genus Juniperus, serve as larval host plants for a few moth species and one butterfly. These insects lay their eggs on junipers, and upon hatching, the caterpillars feed on the foliage.

Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) caterpillars depend upon Redcedars (Juniperus virginiana).

Some of the moths and butterflies that use Redcedars as larval host plants include:

1. Juniper Geometer Moth (Patalene olyzonaria): This moth’s caterpillar feeds on various species of juniper. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 25-35 mm and is generally brown with various patterns.

Juniper Geometer Moth (Patalene olyzonaria).

2. Juniper Pug (Eupithecia pusillata): This is a small moth species that has caterpillars feeding specifically on juniper.

Juniper Pug (Eupithecia pusillata)

3. Juniper Carpet Moth (Thera juniperata): This is another moth species that utilizes juniper as a food source during its larval stage.

Juniper Carpet Moth (Thera juniperata)

4. Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus): This is a small, green butterfly that is intricately patterned with lines and dots, resembling the scales of a juniper. The Juniper Hairstreak butterfly lays its eggs on juniper and red cedar trees. Upon hatching, the caterpillars feed on the foliage of these trees. The close relationship between this butterfly and its host plants is even reflected in its name. Over time, the Juniper Hairstreak has evolved to rely heavily on juniper trees, making the conservation of these trees crucial for the survival of this butterfly species.

Juniper Hairstreak Callophrys gryneus Southeast Metro Park, Travis Co., Texas 12 May 2016

In addition to these, certain sawflies might also lay their eggs on junipers, and their larvae will feed on the foliage. However, while junipers are larval hosts for these species, they are not as significant in terms of biodiversity support as some other plants. If you’re looking to support a wide variety of wildlife, it’s a good idea to include a diverse range of native plants in your landscape.

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