Luke writes, “We found this insect on the wall in our house. It may have come from a silky cocoon we found on a banana, which might mean it’s not local. It had a white spot on its ventral abdomen.” Native or not, we love a challenge! Sometimes we start the identification process by googling some key words. In this case, “banana moth” gave us an immediate ID.
This moth (in pupal form) hitched a ride up north from somewhere in its native range, from central or southern Mexico south through Central America to Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. It spent its larval life eating banana leaves before it formed a thin, whitish yellow cocoon constructed of its own hairs and silk. In its native home the moth would be very active and seen flying in open sunny areas and sipping nectar. Reportedly these moths can fly long distances and if helped by wind can fly over half a mile or more from their emergence site. These moths have accidentally been imported to other countries as well.
Photo by Luke White on 4/10/20 in Missoula, MT