Bird-cherry Ermine Yponomeuta evonymella

Ermine Moth — photo, description, harm

Wingspan 16-25 mm.

Some members of the small ‘Ermines’ are difficult to separate visually, but this species is one of the easiest, having five rows of black dots on the forewing.

Nocturnal, it flies during July and August, and is attracted to light.

The larvae feed on the leaves of bird cherry ( Prunus padus ), and can occur in pest numbers, completely stripping the plant.

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Ermine Moth — photo, description, harm

Wingspan 34-48 mm.

Widely distributed and fairly common over much of Britain, there is considerable variation in the degree of black speckling, and in certain parts of Scotland, there are forms with a buffish ground colour.

It generally flies from May to July, sometimes later in the south.

The hairy larvae feed on a variety of herbaceous plants.

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Are Moths Dangerous to Humans?

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Moths are nocturnal, flying insects that primarily feed on flower nectar. They are completely inoffensive creatures that can’t bite or sting. Far from pests, moths are important to local ecosystems; they are food for a variety of insect-eating predators and effective pollinators for a number of plant species.

Moth Classification

Moths, together with butterflies and skippers, make up the order Lepidoptera. Containing some 160,000 described species of an estimated 500,000 total species, these insects are important components of ecosystems worldwide. Historically, these three groups were distinguished from one another by a variety of morphological and behavioral characteristics: butterflies are diurnal and have clubbed antennae; moths are nocturnal fliers that rest with their wings extended laterally; and skippers are moth-like in appearance, but diurnal. However, recent work suggests that these distinctions may not accurately represent evolutionary history; accordingly, the use of the terms «butterfly,» «skipper» and «moth» are somewhat subjective.

Moth Mouths

Moths have a mouth that is modified into an apparatus called a proboscis. The proboscis is normally carried rolled up, resembling an upside-down party favor; when the moth lands on a flower, it straightens the proboscis and inserts it in the flower to siphon nectar. The Morgan’s sphinx moth (Xanthopan morgani) has the longest proboscis of any moth, reaching over 12 inches in length. Larval moths (caterpillars) do have biting mouthparts, but these cannot pierce the skin; exceptionally large species may be able to deliver a slight pinch.

Potentially Poisonous

Moths and butterflies are potentially dangerous to people in one context: eating them. While most butterflies and moths are likely non-toxic to hungry humans, a few species — like the familiar monarch butterfly (Family Nymphalidae) — feed on poisonous or unpalatable plants as larvae. Monarch caterpillars feed largely on milkweed, which contains cardenolides — poisons that act on heart muscle. The insects store these poisons in their body, and if they are eaten, the predator will likely find them distasteful and potentially sickening. Because of the bold orange and black coloration of the butterflies, predators will often remember that they tasted bad, and therefore ignore them in the future. Despite the fact that some moths and butterflies have these sequestered toxins, butterflies are eaten by humans in some parts of Mexico and Asia.

Moth Lifecycle

Adult moths lay tiny eggs on leaves and twigs. These eggs hatch into larvae that are commonly called caterpillars. While moths are universally harmless, some caterpillars have stinging spines or hairs. Of particular note, the puss moth caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis) is capable of delivering a severe sting. Though the symptoms commonly fade in a matter of minutes or hours, severe envenomation can produce symptoms lasting several days. The saddleback caterpillar (Sibine stimulea) and io moth (Automeris io) are also capable of delivering painful stings that are likened to fire. In Europe, the oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) is increasing its range northward. The hairs of these caterpillars are particularly troubling because they can become airborne; the hairs are irritating when they touch the skin, but if inhaled they can cause allergic reactions.

American Ermine Moth (Yponomeuta multipunctella)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American Ermine Moth.

Updated: 7/22/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content В©

The American Ermine Moth is a transcontinental moth found in Canada and the U.S. despite its geographically limiting name.

The American Ermine Moth is bright white and covered in black dots, much like a Dalmatian in the canine world. Careful examination of the number of dots and their arrangement can help distinguish this species from other similar species in this genus, but the task can still prove challenging. The American Ermine Moth has more black dots than most species, and they form three or four relative lines down the forewings. Hindwings, when visible, are mostly white. The hairy white face has two large, black eyes. Its legs are completely white.

Caterpillars are mostly white with yellow blotches near the feet. They are also covered in black dots and have a dark line running down the ‘spine’. They feed on running strawberry bushes, a low-growing, leafy shrub that covers the ground in woodlands. They may also be found on viburnum plants also growing in the wild. Adults are active in the summer and can be found in areas where host plants are growing, including gardens, backyards, and parks.

Some Uses of Ermine Moth
Caterpillar Silk

At the end of May, I encountered a veiled tree in the park near my work. The veil around the tree stem was the combined work of thousands of caterpillars of a species of ermine moth that congregated together to make a communal silk nest to protect themselves from predators. They can strip whole trees bare of foliage. but the trees normally regenerate. (For more information about ermine moths, see

Ermine moth caterpillars in a communal silk nest.
Photo attributed to N. P. Holmes (from Wikipedia)

Adult ermine moth
Photo attributed to Entomart (from Wikipedia)

Most of the species here in Holland looks like the moth in the photo above. The species can best be identified by the host tree or plant species that the caterpillars feed on. In some cases, even objects near the trees are encapsulated by the caterpillars.
(A bicycle covered in caterpillar silk, see

Out of curiosity, I stripped a piece of the silk from the tree bark. It felt smooth like satin and was quite strong. After removing three encapsulated caterpillars, I had a 5 x 30 cm strip of silk. I turned it into a small piece of cordage by rolling the strip on my thigh. The end result was quite similar to dental floss in thickness and strength. As a test, I put one half of the strand in water overnight and compared it in the morning with the other half that was left dry. There was no difference in strength or elasticity of the thread.

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The next day I went back to take some pictures and do some more testing.

Here´s the tree again, with my hand poking in the hole that was made by my initial test the day before. In this state it sheds most water, but it can get wet. The silk is spun quite tightly around the bark. but does not make real contact. There´s some space in between the silk and the bark.

Small strip of silk torn off.

Same strip turned onto itself and made into a short piece of cordage.

A full 1.5 liter cola-bottle was no match and was lifted with ease. The cordage was slightly elastic and felt very strong. I reckon it can be made into snares. It might even work as a fishing line.

Other Uses:

1) Instant band-aid (although the caterpillar silk might not be sterile). It will probably work as a styptic by enlarging the blood surface area.

2) Airtight seal for a fire piston instead of using a rubber O-ring. It looks and works a bit like the teflon tape plumbers use. It gave me a chaga coal in two tries.

3) The silk works well, placed over a straw, as a filter for draining sand/silt particles out of water. In theory, a sheet of ermine moth silk could even be used to filter coffee, assuming there are no funny chemicals in ermine moth silk.

4) As ermine moth silk is see-through and breathable, a small sheet of it could possibly be used as a piece of no-see-um netting to keep insects at bay.

5) The silk thread also works great as dental floss.

I tried to turn the ermine moth silk into felt, but this didn’t work. Two sheets of the stuff merely slide over each other and do not cling.

Fresh ermine moth caterpillar silk is a surprisingly strong and versatile material and can be used for making strong cordage (not affected by water) amongst other things. With some care, long strips can be pulled off the tree, which needs less spicing when turning it into cordage. Collecting ermine moth silk strips or sheets by rolling them onto a stick works best for me. Unrolling the silk is easy, as it doesn’t stick. If my clothes needed some on-the-trail-stitching, I´d use this stuff.

E pilogue
At the start of July, one and a half month after my first encounter, the silk sheets around the tree in the park were dotted with caterpillar droppings, empty cocoons and little escape holes. The caterpillars had all left their protective silk tent as beautiful speckled adult moths and were now swarming around the tree. In early September, the remaining silk had degraded severely. It was thinner, more fragile, less elastic and had lost it’s silken touch. A piece of cordage now made out of it proved easy to break. In contrast, my little piece of cordage from the end of May had not lost any of it’s strength after more than four months. Although this cordage was kept indoors during those months, I would expect that a piece of cordage made out of fresh ermine moth silk, that was kept outdoors, would degrade a lot slower than a silken sheet on the tree because it exposes less surface to possible degradation (for instance by ultraviolet radiation or oxidation). Furthermore, turning a strip of ermine moth silk into cordage introduces fats and oils from the hand palms into the material, thus protecting it even more from moistness.

By October, and after a few windy and rainy days, the last remaining sheets of ermine moth silk that clung onto the tree have gone. In about six or seven months, there will be a new generation of caterpillars turning a few chosen trees into a veiled work of art.

E-mail your comments to «Tom Lourens» in the Netherlands at [email protected]

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Ermine Moth — photo, description, harm

Wingspan 19-22 mm.

Part of a species complex which is still undergoing scientific research, it is very difficult to separate this from similar species, even by genitalia examination, and the best guide is often the foodplant.

The larvae feed on blackthorn ( Prunus spinosa ), hawthorn ( Crataegus ) and cherry ( Prunus spp ), and like its relatives lives gregariously in a silken web.

It is fairly common over most of the British Isles, and flies in July and August, when it is attracted to light.

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Bird, Cherry Ermine Moth Larvae

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Ermine moth — Yponomeuta sp.


An ermine moth of genus Yponomeuta rests on the flower of a Charlock plant.

From Wikipedia (
The family Yponomeutidae are known as the ermine moths, with several hundred species, most of them in the tropics. The larvae tend to form communal webs, and some are minor pests in agriculture, forestry, and horticulture. Some of the adults are very attractive. Adult moths are minor pollinators.

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Ailanthus Webworm Moth


Attevidae (tropical ermine moths)

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The ailanthus webworm moth is long and thin and curves its wings lengthwise along the body. Forewings are orange with white spots outlined in black (these often look like tiny flower patterns). The mouthparts (labial palps) are curved upward. Some of the head scales stick up to form a tuft. The antennae are filamentous and are held out in front of the head instead of pointing back toward the wingtips.

The slender larvae are brownish with lengthwise stripes and sparse, straight, medium-length hairs. They live communally in webs in ailanthus trees.

Similar species: Several other types of small moths rest with their wings curled lengthwise around the body, but this is Missouri’s only species with this color pattern. Also, the caterpillars of some other species live gregariously in silken webs or tents. But note the food plant (usually ailanthus) and the presence of various life stages living together in the case of ailanthus webworm moth.

Apple-Codling moth

Signs and symptoms of a codling moth larvae infested apple. Note the brown material (frass) being pushed out from larval entry holes and the dark red discoloration about each hole.

Michael Bush, WA State University Extension

Pest description and crop damage This is the most serious pest of apples in the PNW. Adult moths are 0.5 inch wide, with alternating gray and white bands on the wings and a copper band on the wing tips. Larvae are whitish with a black head when immature, and pinkish with brown heads when mature. Larvae are 0.1 inch long at hatch and 0.8 inch long at maturity. Pupae are brown and about 0.75 inch long. The eggs are very tiny and rarely seen.

Larvae feed directly on the fruit, boring into it and feeding within. Stings are shallow depressions where feeding occurred and stopped. Larvae bore into the fruit, leaving a characteristic tunnel filled with frass that extrudes from the hole on the fruit surface. Entry holes may be anywhere on the fruit.

Biology and life history Codling moth overwinters as mature larvae in silken cocoons (hybernaculi) spun under loose bark, in the soil, or in litter at the base of the tree. Pupation takes place in the spring around the time the first blossoms are showing pink, and adults emerge around bloom. Adults are active only at dusk and dawn and lay eggs on leaves, or occasionally on fruit.

The larvae emerge, begin feeding on fruit, and may bore to the center of developing fruit to feed on the flesh and seeds. As they mature, they push frass out of the entry hole. After 3 to 4 weeks, the larvae leave the fruit to seek a sheltered spot on the tree to spin cocoons.

The larvae may overwinter in the cocoon, or they may emerge in 2 to 3 weeks as a new flight of adults. These adults are active in July and August. In warm areas, there may even be a third generation. Larvae of this brood often penetrate fruit but do not complete development before harvest or the onset of winter.

Sampling and thresholds The development of codling moth can be predicted by the accumulation of heat units, or degree-days using phenology models. By knowing the stage of the insect, we can target management to specific life stages that are susceptible. For codling moth, that means that treatments a the eggs or the wandering larvae during the brief period between egg hatch and the time when the larva is able to penetrate the fruit where it is protected. Phenology model recommendations can originate with your local Extension resource, crop consultant, software system, or use of an online degree-day calculator. It is important to make sure that you are using an appropriate tool/model for your region. Homeowners can also benefit from use of degree-day models to predict management timing.

To calculate biofix for degree-day modeling hang traps with 1 mg pheromone lures in the upper canopy at pink. Biofix is the first capture of multiple male moths in a trap or consistent capture of multiple males over more than one trap. The biofix date is used as the point to start accumulating degree-days for the Stanley and Hoyt (1987) degree-day model, which is still the best model for PNW locations south of 46°N. North of this latitude, the no-biofix model can be used (Jones et al. 2008). The CM-DA lure contains a food odor and will catch females as well as males. Capture of females indicates potential for eggs and damage but models can use male captures for setting biofix. It is important to note that trap captures do not always reflect the potential for damage and the best approach for management is to integrate different strategies.

A number of commercial pheromone dispensers including hand applied dispensers and aerosol emitters are available to disrupt mating of codling moth. Apply pheromone to the orchard ahead of bloom. The codling moth population must already be at a low level before the technology is effective. When mating disruption is used, monitor the orchard with pheromone traps baited with 1 mg pheromone or CM-DA lures set in the upper third of the canopy. If more than five male moths are captured in a trap over the first generation, check the orchard for fruit damage or apply a conventional insecticide. If fruit damage exceeds 0.5% at the end of the first generation, use conventional insecticides to provide supplemental control against the second generation. If more than two male moths are captured in a trap during the second generation, a conventional insecticide may be necessary.

In small orchards, sanitation by removing and disposing of young damaged fruit can be helpful in reducing codling moth. Check regularly throughout the season for fruit with frass-filled holes. Removing and destroying infected fruit prior to larvae emergence preceding pupation can help reduce overall populations. Picking up dropped fruit from the ground likewise can be an effective sanitation measure. Homeowners can bag individual fruit (clusters thinned to one fruit) in paper or mesh bags approximately six weeks after bloom, however this can be labor-intensive and more challenging for cultivars with short stems. Fruit will mature completely within bags, however color development on red varieties may be affected. Homeowners can also place corrugated bands of cardboard around the lower trunk to attract larvae looking for a place to pupate. Place bands in May and remove before the adults begin to emerge in mid-June. The same technique can be used with the subsequent generation(s) later in summer.

Management-chemical control: HOME USE

After petal fall spray and spring and summer sprays

Apply first cover spray at 250 degree-days after biofix (or 225 degree-days if the selected insecticide has ovicidal activity), or about 10 days after full petal fall (all petals are off) or 17 to 21 days after full bloom. Insecticides are timed to target eggs and newly hatched larvae before they bore into the fruit. Multiple sprays are often necessary with applications up to every 10-14 days, however sprays can be reduced by monitoring for adult moths with monitoring traps or use of degree-day models (see description above) to properly time insecticide applications to the hatching larvae during the growing season.

  • acetamiprid
  • azadirachtin (neem oil)-Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • esfenvalerate
  • gamma-cyhalothrin
  • insecticidal soap-Some formulations OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • kaolin-Applied as a spray to leaves, stems, and fruit, it acts as a repellant to pests. OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • lambda-cyhalothrin
  • malathion
  • mating disruption pheromones-See biorational control above. Not a good option for small home orchard blocks, may increase damage.
  • permethrin
  • pyrethrins (often as a mix with other ingredients)
  • spinosad (Entrust) -Some formulations OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • zeta-cypermethrin

Management-biorational control: COMMERCIAL USE ONLY

Stages 5-6: Pink application

Mating disruption. Pheromone release devices placed in the orchard interfere with the communication from female to male codling moth and this prevents or delays mating of moths, reducing the number of eggs laid and crop damage. A number of hand-applied pheromone dispensers are available including Isomate C+, Isomate CTT, NoMate, CheckMate, Cidetrak CM, and Checkmate CM-XL 1000. These dispensers are typically applied to trees at densities of 200 to 400 per acre, sometimes with a higher density of dispensers applied to orchard borders. Aerosol devices (also called puffers) for releasing pheromones are increasingly favored for their efficacy and ease of application at densities such as 1 device/a. Substantial fruit damage could result from improper use of mating disruption, therefore follow the label recommendations. Blocks placed under mating disruption should be large, ideally greater than 10 acres, and prospects for success increase when neighboring orchards are also using the tactic and the codling moth pressure is already low. Pheromone dispensers can be applied to dormant trees and must be in place before first moth flight around the time of full bloom of ‘Red Delicious’. Place within 2 ft of the top of the canopy. If the orchard has a history of codling moth problems, use one or more insecticide applications against the first generation. If a codling moth source exists nearby, use border sprays (five to six rows) of insecticides.

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Management-biological (microbial) control:

  • codling moth granulosis virus (Carpovirusine, Cyd-X, Virosoft CP4)-Check label for rates. REI/PHI 12 hr. Granulosis virus is a selective biological insecticide that must be ingested to be effective. Thorough coverage is important. The virus degrades when exposed to UV light. If a grower relies only on granulosis virus for codling moth control, frequent applications are necessary (every 7 to 10 days), especially when codling moth pressure is high. The virus controls larvae, but some fruit damage, primarily stings, may be evident. OMRI-listed for organic use.

Management-chemical control: COMMERCIAL USE

After petal fall spray

Apply first cover spray at 250 degree-days after biofix, or earlier for ovicidal materials such as oil and growth regulators (225 degree-days). Note that many materials can be mixed with horticultural oil for increased activity against eggs and increased efficacy. This roughly corresponds to about 10 days after full petal fall (all petals are off) or 17 to 21 days after full bloom for ‘Red Delicious’. A second treatment is recommended approximately 14 days after the first (depending on residual) to cover the full period of moth egg laying in the first generation. The first summer generation spray should be applied at 1250 degree-days after biofix, and again a second treatment in 14 days will help cover the entire egg hatch period. Materials with rapid breakdown such as codling moth granulosis virus should be applied on a more frequent schedule.

  • chlorantraniliprole (Altacor) at 3.0 to 4.5 oz/a in no less than 100 gal water per application. Do not apply more than 9 oz/a per growing season. Do not use an adjuvant within 60 days of harvest. REI 4 hr. PHI 5 days. [Group 28] [ovicidal and larvicidal]
  • horticultural mineral oil
  • methoxyfenozide (Intrepid 2F) at 16 fl oz/a in up 100 gal water per application. For use against low- to moderate-pressure situations, with alternate control measures such as mating disruption. Use adjuvant; see label. Do not exceed 64 oz/a per growing season. REI 4 hr. PHI 14 days. [Group 18A]
  • novaluron (Rimon 0.83EC) at 30 to 50 fl oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application with a second application 14 to 17 days later. Do not apply more than 150 fl oz per growing season. REI 12 hr. PHI 14 days. [Group 15]
  • pyriproxyfen (Esteem 35WP) at 4 to 5 oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. Do not exceed two applications per season. Do not apply earlier than 14 days after last Esteem 35 WP treatment. REI 12 hr. PHI 45 days. [Group 7C]

Spring and summer

  • acetamiprid (Assail 70WP) at 1.7 to 3.4 oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. Do not make more than 4 applications per year or exceed 13.5 oz/a per growing season. Adding a low rate of horticultural mineral oil improves effectiveness against codling moth. REI 12 hr. PHI 7 days. [Group 4A] [ovicidal and larvicidal]
  • Chromobacterium subtsugae (Grandevo) at 1 to 3 lb/a. Under heavy pest populations, apply a knockdown insecticide prior to or in a tank mix, use the higher label rates, shorten the spray interval, and/or increase the spray volume to improve coverage. REI/PHI 12 hr. OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • clothianidin (Belay 50WDG) at 3.2 to 6.4 oz/a. For control of first generation codling moth in areas with light pressure and suppression of first generation codling moth in areas of heavy infestation. Do not apply more than 6.4 oz of Belay per acre per season. REI 12 hr. PHI 7 days. Do not feed or allow livestock to graze on cover crops from treated orchards. Belay must not be applied during bloom or if bees are actively foraging. [Larvicidal].[Group 4]
  • chlorantraniliprole (Altacor) at 3.0 to 4.5 oz product/a in no less than 100 gal water per application. Do not apply more than 9 oz per acre per growing season. Do not use an adjuvant within 60 days of harvest. REI 4 hr. PHI 5 days. [Group 28] [ovicidal and larvicidal]
  • emamectin benzoate (Proclaim 5SG) at 3.2 to 4.8 oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. For use in low to moderate pressure situations with alternate control measures such as mating disruption. Do not exceed 14.4 oz/a per season. REI 12 hr. PHI 14 days. [Group 6] [larvicidal]
  • fenpropathrin (Danitol 2.4 EC) at 16 to 21.3 fl oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. Will also reduce mite populations but may cause resurgence the same season. Do not exceed 42.7 fl oz per acre per season. REI 24 hr. PHI 14 days. [Group 3A]
  • granulovirus virus M (CpV-M) (Carpovirusine) at 6.8 to 13.5 fl oz/a in 100 gal water per application. Start at the beginning of first generation egg hatch. Apply every 7 to 10 days. REI/PHI 12 hr. [larvicidal] OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • indoxacarb (Avaunt) at 5 to 6 oz/a in up to 200 gal water per application. Make no more than 3 applications prior to hand-thinning. No hand thinning after the 4th application. Make no more than 4 applications per growing season. Do not apply more than 24 oz/a per growing season. For use in low- to moderate-pressure situations, with alternate control measures such as mating disruption. REI 12 hr. PHI 14 days. [Group 22A]
  • methoxyfenozide (Intrepid 2F) at 16 fl oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. For use against low- to moderate-pressure situations, with alternate control measures such as mating disruption. Do not exceed 64 oz/a per season. REI 4 hr. PHI 14 days. [Group 18] [ovicidal and larvicidal]
  • novaluron (Rimon 0.83EC) at 30 to 50 fl oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. See label for application timing. Do not exceed 150 fl oz/a per season. REI 12 hr. PHI 14 days. [Group 15] [ovicidal]
  • phosmet (Imidan 70W) at 2.1 to 5.7 lb/a in up to 100 gal water per application. REI/PHI 7 days. [Group 1B]
  • pyriproxyfen (Esteem 35WP) at 4 to 5 oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. Do not exceed two applications per growing season. REI 12 hr. PHI 45 days. [Group 7C] [ovicidal]
  • spinetoram (Delegate WG) at 6 to 7 oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. Do not exceed four applications per season. REI 4 hr. PHI 7 days. [Group 5] [larvicidal]
  • spinosad (Entrust 80WP) at 2 to 3 oz /a in up to 100 gal water per application. Do not exceed 9 oz/a per season. REI 4 hr. PHI 7 days. OMRI-listed for organic use. [Group 5] larvicidal]
  • thiamethoxam/chlorantraniliprole (Voliam Flexi) at 4 to 7 oz/a in up to 100 gal water per application. Do not apply exceed 16 oz/a per season and do not use an adjuvant within 60 days of harvest. REI 12 hr. PHI 35 days. [Group 4A] [ovicidal and larvicidal]

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