Moth: Bag worm

Find, identify & discuss the insects of SANParks

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Nannie
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Moth: Bag worm

Unread post by Nannie »

Two days after i found this one i found another, also close to the pool. I am sure the first one fell in by accident as it was floating. That they live on the ground and not in water i am fairly certain of.
Here are photos of the other two "bagworms".
They both use bark to construct their "bags".
The one is rather loosely woven and was about 50mm long.
The worm moves up and down it's "bag" and it's open at one end. It extends it's head and front section out of the opening to walk, dragging the "bag" behind it.
The other one's "bag" is much more rigid and solid looking, also made from bark.
It is about 20mm long and i found it on a marula tree.
The three worms all differ in colour.

Image
Last edited by Nannie on Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Rusty Justy
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Re: Insect ID needed

Unread post by Rusty Justy »

Great shots of the Bag Worms Nannie :thumbs_up:
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oddesy
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Re: What the heck is this thing?

Unread post by oddesy »

Very nice! never seen one in the field :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: :mrgreen:

The females of bagworms (Family Psychidae) are wingless, eyeless and legless as well as lack antennae . They also remain in their laral cases. Over 134 species are found in SA :shock: A few species are even parteneogenetic which means males are not required for mating and offspring are virtually clones of the parent. The males generally have a very short lifespan and lack mouthparts so their sole purpose is to search for females which they do mostly at night.
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Re: What the heck is this thing?

Unread post by Elzet »

oddesy wrote:... their sole purpose is to search for females which they do mostly at night.


Sounds if they share the same qualities as that of human males. :twisted: :lol:
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Moth: Bag worm

Unread post by RonnieL »

Hi Guys,

I need some more help,

I took this pic in the Van Stadens Flower Reserve now recently just outside of Port Elizabeth and thought that it would be OK if I post it here asking for help.

There is an insect living inside of that structure on top of the flower that comes out partly and can then crawl around dragging that structure with it. What you can see there is a camouflaged "door" that has been pulled closed. I remember years ago as a kid I found one of these crawling around so inquisitive me opened it up to see what was inside and I found a "worm-like" insect inside with that structure being held together with a web-like material.

I am wanting to know what this is and am I correct in assuming that this "log house" has been built from grass that has been "cut" to the same length by the parent of this "worm" and has laid its egg inside and possibly even placed some food inside for when the egg hatches.

Thanking you :thumbs_up:
Ronnie

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Jon Richfield
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Re: Insect ID needed

Unread post by Jon Richfield »

Nice pictures.

What you have there is one of our many South African species of "bagworm".
It is in fact not a worm, which is no surprise when you see how many creatures are called worms.
They can't all be worms after all. :)

There are many species of insects that make such bags, including the so-called "caddis flies", but the young of caddis flies live underwater.
Clothes moths and their relatives make similar bags, but they are in another family and do not cover their bags with sticks.
What you have there is the larva of a moth in the family Psychidae, the bagworms.
Some of them are pests, such as the wattle bagworm, but most, such as the one that you show, are practically harmless and very interesting, not to say engaging, members of our wild communities.

As soon as possible after leaving the egg, the young bagworm caterpillar, or larva, which still is tiny, far too tiny to drag a big bag like the one that you have illustrated, spins some silk and fastens together bits of plant material to make its first bag. Different species of bagworm make bags of different designs.
I have seen several that make bags looking like yours, but I don't know the species.
Over 100 species are known from South Africa. As it grows, feeds, and changes its skin, the larva enlarges its case as necessary. I think the one that you have illustrated must be nearly fully grown.

Some species are parthenogenic, laying eggs without any males, and I have no idea whether yours is one such.
I do not think it is likely, because most species do have males.

When it is fully grown, the larva shuts up shop, sheds its skin yet again, and becomes a pupa.
So far, so standard, but after that the pattern changes, depending on the gender of the larva.
Male moths are generally rather shabby looking, ordinary moths.
Like some moths and unlike others, they do not waste time on feeding, in fact they cannot feed; they have just a day or two in which to find a female and mate.
They do that at most once. Then they die.

The female is a totally different bag, and hardly more than that, unkind though it sounds; she has no wings to speak of, and not much in the way of legs, only enough to turn one way for mating, and afterwards the other way for laying her eggs inside her bag. Then she dies too.
I seem to have heard something similarly funereal somewhere else; where might that have been? Romeo and Juliet, perhaps?

The more cheerful aspect is that before she dies, she lays a couple of hundred eggs.
When the young hatch, they start the whole cycle all over again.

Laying so many eggs, and staying out of trouble in those bags, you might expect that the bagworms would have taken over the planet by now, but actually in spite of their best efforts, most bagworms never survive to mate.
The wattle bagworm is the only one that I can think of offhand that is successful enough to be a serious pest.
They have various enemies, parasitoid wasps and flies, bacteria and fungi and viruses, and possibly even the occasional shrew or bird that has cracked their camouflage and their shelter.
Also, what with the female laying all her eggs in one bag, and not doing her bit to seek out a male, and with males not generally living more than a day or two, mating is a chancy business.
Probably that is one of the reasons why some of the successful species are in fact parthenogenic.

Cheers,

Jon
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Re: Moth: Bag worm

Unread post by Marj Atkins »

Quite a lot of info in the above post. A few video screen grabs:

Bagworm walking along branch

bagworm 5.jpg


A different bagworm of same species attempts to get unstuck but the thorn is preventing the bag from moving.
bagworm 1.jpg


The bagworm, which is actually a caterpillar, must return to the bag and find a different way.

bagworm 2.jpg


bagworm 3.jpg


Finally - destination reached.

bagworm 4.jpg


A very different type of casing. This is a well-informed bagworm (found at Graskop Gorge in Mpumalanga) is going over the info notes.

bagworm Mpum 2.jpg


bagworm Mpum 1.jpg
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colbol
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Re: Moth: Bag worm

Unread post by colbol »

:hmz: Interesting species- another new one for me :D
:lol: Well presented pics and anecdotes Marj :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Karin Mitton
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Re: Moth: Bag worm

Unread post by Karin Mitton »

While browsing the forum looking for insect IDs, I found this topic.
And while out on a walk on Sunday, I spotted this bag worm casing. Don’t think I would have noticed it if I hadn’t seen this topic the day before.

1DC28E91-3429-4A11-A86B-2B94E393CE9C.jpeg
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Cannoli
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Re: Insect ID needed.

Unread post by Cannoli »

Can someone please help me to id this insect. I have seen it eating on dead plant material and even animal feces. All the individuals look the same and more or less the same size. It does look like a little worm inside but can't confirm .

20220116_064018.jpg
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Elsa
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Re: Insect ID needed.

Unread post by Elsa »

Perhaps a Bagworm Cannoli?
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Cannoli
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Re: Insect ID needed.

Unread post by Cannoli »

I've just looked that up on the internet Elsa thank you! That is exactly what it is.
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Elsa
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Re: Insect ID needed.

Unread post by Elsa »

Great. :thumbs_up:
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Ouma Biskuit
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Re: Moth: Bag worm

Unread post by Ouma Biskuit »

Very interesting insects indeed.
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