The length of the forewings is 11–18 mm for males. The females are wingless. Adult males are on wing from February to late May.
The larvae feed on various deciduous trees and shrubs, but especially Acer, Ulmus, Betula and Prunus species. Oaks (Quercus)are also affected, and many homeowners place sticky bands around trunks of their trees to trap the migrating adults as they climb the tree to lay eggs. The eggs hatch, turning into numerous inchlong worms that can defoliate and kill a tree. The worms often fall from the canopy onto passersby. Usually they are suspended by a line of silk that they can climb back into the tree along, should a spring wind dislodge them from their meal of leaves.Charlotte, NC has a municipal program to control the fall cankerworm which is estimated to infest 73,000 acres. The fall cankerworm (Alsophila pometraria) is an insect native to North America. It is typically found from Georgia to Nova Scotia and west to Texas. It has a four stage life cycle: egg, pupa, larva (caterpillar) and adult.
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