Invasive Moth has a Taste for Italian Chardonnay

aroid/CC BY 2.0

A little-understood moth from North America has made its way to Italy—and made itself at home among the country's famed vineyards. The newly defined species, Antispila oinophylla, is native across North America, where it typically feeds on wild grapevines.

Though the moths were first noticed in Italy in 2006, it was not until a new series of research utilizing DNA barcoding that it was identified as a distinct species.

So far, the moths have been observed in the Trento and Veneto regions, primarily feeding on the leaves of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat grapes. As of yet, the potential economic impact is not known.

It is not known exactly how the moths made their way across the Atlantic, but researchers noted that their cocoons are small and the same color as the leaves to which they're attached—which makes spotting cocoons difficult.

This group is very poorly studied," Dr. Erik van Nieukerken of the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity in Leiden told told the BBC, "if you know exactly what it is and where it belongs, if you know its evolutionary history.... you can understand better how to control it."

Tags: Animals | Conservation | Insects

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