Currently viewing the category: "Tussock Moth Caterpillars"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Burning Caterpillar
Location: Tlaxcala, Mexico
February 12, 2014 9:57 am
We recently moved to Central Mexico (state of Tlaxcala) and my SIL who is a Mexican national brought in this caterpillar and advised me to tell my children that they were not to play with it as it causing a burning sensation when the hairs on the back are touched. Living in the US, we always played with caterpillars so this spiked my curiousity.
Signature: Krystal L (ArmyMustang)

Possibly Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Possibly Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hi Krystal,
Many caterpillars have utricating hairs that come off when they are handled and these hairs may cause irritation in sensitive individuals.  Tussock Moth Caterpillars fall into that group and this appears to be a Tussock Moth Caterpillar.  BugGuide provides this information on the White Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar:  “CAUTION: Avoid handling the caterpillar, as its hair is known to cause allergic reactions, especially in areas of the body with sensitive skin (e.g. back, stomach, inner arms). Seek medical treatment if a severe reaction occurs.”  Though it is not your species, your individual might be closely related.  Perhaps your SIL is being overly cautious as there are other caterpillars in Mexico that can cause severe reactions like this Mexican Flannel Moth Caterpillar.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Moth caterpillar from Peru
Location: Lima, Perú
February 3, 2014 11:50 pm
Greetings!
I found this brown-gray colored caterpillar in my house the other day, and I decided to take some pictures of it because it looked pretty cool. I was almost sure that this was a moth caterpillar (and I’m terribly scared of moths) and I am pretty interested in finding out what specie it is (and how will it look like when it comes back to haunt me)! It is mid-summer here in Lima, Peru and it is the first time I run into this kind of caterpillar.
Signature: Rodrigo Alcorta

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Dear Rodrigo,
This appears to be a Tussock Moth Caterpillar in the subfamily Lymantriinae.  In our opinion, your fear of moths has no basis in actuality.  Moths do not bite, nor do they sting.  Caterpillars on the other hand often have defense mechanisms, and many possess utricating hairs or stinging spines.  Tussock Moth Caterpillars sometimes have utricating hairs that will cause skin irritation if they are carelessly handled.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: chrysalis
Location: Sidney, Maine
December 19, 2013 4:31 am
My friend’s son touched the cocoon and pretty quickly developed contact dermatitis. We’re wondering what butterfly/moth/something else? makes this cocoon.
Signature: Julia Hanauer-Milne

Possibly an Asp Cocoon

Hickory Tussock Moth Cocoon

Hi Julia,
It might not be possible for us to provide an accurate species identification based on your somewhat blurry image of a cocoon in a plastic bag, but we will try to provide you with some explanation.  Many furry caterpillars have utricating hairs that can cause irritation, especially in sensitive individuals.  Many of those caterpillars also use the hairs when spinning a cocoon to protect the pupa.  A chrysalis is the the pupa of a butterfly and this is definitely not a butterfly.  Furry caterpillars are generally moth caterpillars.  The Asp or Caterpillar of a Southern Flannel Moth is one that comes to mind, however, this species is generally found in Southern states.  BugGuide does have a photo of the cocoon and the pupa housed inside, and they look somewhat similar to your photo.  BugGuide reports the genus from as far north as New York, but BugGuide also provides this disclaimer:  “The information below is based on images submitted and identified by contributors. Range and date information may be incomplete, overinclusive, or just plain wrong.”
  We would not entirely discount that this cocoon belongs to an Asp, but considering your location, that is probably unlikely.  Bangor Daily News has an online article warning of the stinging Hickory Tussock Caterpillar, Lophocampa caryae, which states:  ” [Charlene] Donahue [forest entomologist with the Department of Conservation] advised people to leave the caterpillar alone because of the possibility of a reaction. They also should be cautious when cleaning up leaf litter on the ground since any hairs left behind by the caterpillar also could cause problems with some people, she added. She recommended that people wear gloves when cleaning up yards.  Some people aren’t bothered by the caterpillar but others could have a reaction that ranges from a mild to fairly severe rash, according to Donahue.  ‘It’s like poison ivy,’ she said.”   That article does not picture the cocoon.  The cocoon of the Hickory Tussock Moth pictured on BugGuide looks like a very close match to your cocoon, and considering the attention it has been getting in Maine lately, we believe that is a proper identification.

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Subject: S. Texas Caterpillar
Location: Corpus Christi, TX
December 19, 2013 6:47 am
For the past two months, I have been finding the caterpillars wandering my property on the ground, on plants, on buildings and nestled in the crevices of my trash cans. They are intriguing with their long groups of white hairs protruding out.
Is this a dangerous caterpillar, or nothing to worry about?
Signature: Tim Weitzel

Possibly Florida Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Possibly Florida Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hi Tim,
This is a Tussock Moth Caterpillar in the genus
Halysidota, however we don’t believe it is either the Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Halysidota tessellaris, or the Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Halysidota harrisii, both of which are represented in our archives.  In our opinion, it most closely resembles the Florida Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Halysidota cinctipes, which you can view on BugGuide.  Carelessly handling this caterpillar might result in contact dermatitis, however this is not a species that is generally listed among caterpillars with stinging spines or utricating hairs.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: White Caterpillar NO black spots
Location: Lake Jordan, North Carolina – mid- October
October 20, 2013 2:33 pm
Hi Bugman,
My husband and I were hiking around Jordan Lake near Raleigh, North Carolina this fine mid-October afternoon and this little guy hitched a ride on his jeans. I’ve been trying to identify him but I cannot find a picture online that doesn’t have black spots and does have black feathery things! He didn’t have black spots on his back so I don’t think he’s a Hickory Tussock, but we’d love to know what he is (and if we’re going to break out in a rash!)!
Thanks!
Signature: Bree – North Carolina

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hi Bree,
We believe this is a Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar,
Halysidota tessellaris, which we initially identified on the Field Biology in Southeastern Ohio website, and we then confirmed with this matching photo on BugGuide.  Also known as the Pale Tussock Moth or Pale Tiger Moth, this species does have considerably variation in the coloration of the caterpillar, according to BugGuide.

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: caterpillar
Location: mid France south of Poitier
October 10, 2013 12:13 pm
I saw the attached caterpillar last Saturday 5th October . I was in mid France just south of Poitier, it was crawling across a gravel path. It was almost luminous green and yellow, are you able to identify the species
Signature: Doug

Pale Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Pale Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hi Doug,
Thanks to UK Moths, we have identified your Tussock Moth Caterpillar as a Pale Tussock Moth Caterpillar,
 Calliteara pudibunda.  Home brewers take note:  it is a pest on Hops.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination