- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

BEND, Ore. (AP) - Pandora moths have taken flight again in the pine forests of Central Oregon.

Andy Eglitis, an entomologist for the Deschutes National Forest, has been getting calls about moth encounters in the woods and in Bend, The Bend Bulletin reported (https://is.gd/jRlX3S ).

He believes there has been a resurgence in their population this summer, but it hasn’t yet reached outbreak levels.

The last big outbreak was in the 1990s, when hundreds of moths crowded on buildings around Bend.

People who called Eglitis reported seeing about 50 moths each. The reports have come from various locations, including in the Deschutes National Forest near the Lava Cast Forest and at a bank building along U.S. Highway 20.

Pandora moths are easy to recognize because of their size and appearance.

At rest, the moths form about a 1 1/2-inch triangle, Eglitis said. In flight, they have a wingspan of about 3 inches. Those gray wings have jagged black lines on top and pink on the bottom. The females have thin yellow antennae. The males have feathery antennae of the same hue.

“They look like ferns,” Eglitis said.

Native to Central Oregon, the pandora moth has a two-year life cycle dependent on pine trees. They munch the trees’ needles like mad while they are caterpillars, but they do not cause deadly damage like gypsy moths and other invasive insects, Eglitis said.

Even during the 1990s outbreak, the moths did not dent Central Oregon’s woods.

“It was really hard to find any trees that were killed by these things,” he said.

The moths emerge from the ground and fly around this time in odd years. The caterpillars are out eating pine needles in spring and summer of even years.

What triggered the 1990s outbreak, which lasted about a decade and moved through different parts of Central Oregon, is unknown, said Stephen Fitzgerald, a forestry professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis. But scientists do know it was a virus that ended the outbreak around Bend and brought the number of moths back in check.

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Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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