What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

scorpion caterpillar!
Fri, Jun 12, 2009 at 3:05 PM
Hello! Outside in our garden I found a caterpillar that looked like it was pretending to be a scorpion.
I have no idea what it is, I am from the UK so dont know much about american bugs.
Any ideas?
central Illinois

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hi Rich,
This is a Tussock Moth Caterpillar in the genus Orgyia, probably the White Marked Tussock Moth, Orgyia leucostigma, which BugGuide describes as: “Caterpillars are recognized by the bright red head and broad black stripe along the back flanked by a yellow stripe each side.  Two red glands on  sixth and seventh abdominal segments, and four tufts of hairs (which may be white, gray or yellowish) on the first four abdominal segments are common to several members of the genus.
CAUTION: Contact with hairs may cause an allergic reaction.
Adult females, which are pale grey, are wingless and therefore flightless. ”   We are amused that you described this caterpillar as looking like a scorpion, because you have a species in the UK, Stauropus fagi, the Lobster Moth Caterpillar, which really, really looks like a scorpion.  We posted a photo of the Lobster Moth Caterpillar in September 2005 from England and more in August 2007 from Japan.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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8 Responses to Tussock Moth Caterpillar

  1. crux101 says:

    Hi…we just found one of these in the woods of SW Pennsylvania and looked here to see if there was any info. Ours has blacker antenea on a bright red head and fine black hairs along the back. A friend cautioned against touching it but there was really no problem about it looking the least bit “pet-able”. I’ll see if we can get a picture and post it here. Thanks for identifying it!!

  2. Seto Family says:

    Thanks for the ID!
    We just found one of these in an older suburban subdivision with lots of mature oak, maple and chestnut trees in Toronto Ontario.

  3. Cedwards says:

    I have just found this in North ALABAMA .

  4. I just found a Tussock Moth Caterpilllar, on my clay strawberry pot today. Weird looking thing. And yes, I thought of a scorpion, also. It even has a tail that curls up. Definite pincher looking things by its bright red head. I live on Michigan.

  5. We’ve had Tussock caterpillars for only the last 3 yrs of our 6 yrs here in Ocala, FL (central FL 30 minutes S of Gainesville, 1 hr N of Orlando). They are pesky, crawling from ground, up foundation onto white hardy board of house. I go on “Caterpillar Patrol” 2 xs a day to remove them immediately BEFORE they form their cacoons. The cacoon is much harder to remove, leaving a fuzzy residue behind, especially if the devils have crawled higher than I can reach. Then it’s extension ladder time. I hoped for a chemical or SOMETHING I could spray on the foundation between ground & hardy board to detour them from climbing on the house, but our local pest control company tells me there is nothing lasting. Any suggestions besides “Patrolling” daily..?

  6. sabrina says:

    So are they physically harmful other than allergic reaction from touching the hair? My 3 yo has found so many of them around the yard & on the deck. (Augusta,GA area by the way)

  7. Maddy says:

    I just saw wine of these in my viset to London ontario

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