Location: fairbanks, ak
July 25, 2011 8:41 pm
hi! i see these little guys in my garden all the time. just curious what kind of caterpillar? it is. it is black with 4 yellow knobs on its back. yellow tufts of hair, 2 antennae on top, 2 on the side, and one on the bottom.
Signature: just curious
Dear just curious,
WE don’t get many insect images from Alaska, and it is always exciting when we do. This is the Rusty Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Orygia antigua. The Forest Health Conditions in Alaska 2003 Google Books website indicates: Rusty Tussock Moth populations were high this year on birch, willow, and blueberries. Even though larval populations were high, levels of defoliation were low. The dark hairy caterpillar is about 3 cm long with four yellow ‘tussocks’ of hair along the back, two tufts of dark hair near the head and one more at the rear. The adult male is an erratic-flying-rusty-brown moth with a white dot and a light brown band on each forewing. the female is flightless. The biggest concern from the public was the likelihood of the caterpillar hairs causing irritation and rashes to blueberry pickers, as was published in a local newspaper. Individuals and medical professionals from rural Alaska made several inquiries concerning the caterpillars’ potential for causing dermatitis. Medical entomology reference texts indicate that their long hairs, left on plant material, can cause irritation to exposed skin even when not directly exposed to the live caterpillars.” We rotated your image to make better use of our horizontal format. The moth is also known as the Common Vapourer according to Inmagine.