Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar?
January 11, 2010
This caterpillar was found October 19, 2009 in area between pond and wetland woods. I think it is a banded tussock moth, but I am not sure and I would like to record it correctly.
Western New York State-US
There is much variability in the coloration of the caterpillar of the Banded Tussock Moth, Halysidota tessallaris, which may be viewed on BugGuide. Our doubt, and probably your doubt as well, stems from the very black dorsal line evident on your specimen, which is lacking in most of the BugGuide images. The description, according to the Caterpillars of the Eastern Forests website, is: “Gray, dirty tan to yellow-brown with long paired white and black lashes on second and third thoracic segments. Those of second thoracic segment projecting forward beyond head. Eighth abdominal segment with third set of lashes. Dark medial dorsal tufts often forming dorsal line.” We think a closer match is the Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Lophocampa caryae, which is also pictured on BugGuide. Your caterpillar is one of the Arctiid Tussock Moths, and not a member of the Tussock Moth family Lymantriidae.