Azalea Caterpillar

black and white stripped caterpillar
December 24, 2009
I found these acrobatic caterpillars on my George Tabor Azaleas I believe it was in September. Their black and white stripes were quite different. It was their red head and legs and tail that caught my attention. No major harm was done to my azaleas. Could these be the caterpillars for a zebra swallowtail?
Saint Fancisville, La

Azalea Caterpillars
Azalea Caterpillars

Hi again Leslie,
These are Prominent Moth Caterpillars in the genus Datana.  It is probably the Azalea Caterpillar, Datana major, which feeds on Azalea and a few other plants including red oak, apple and blueberry.  The species is well represented on BugGuide which indicates:  “female lays masses of 80-100 eggs on underside of leaf in late spring or early summer; first instar larvae feed gregariously, skeletonizing leaves of hostplant; older larvae eat entire leaves; usually one generation per year, with partial second generation in the south; overwinters as a pupa in a cell in the soil.
”  This posture is typical of caterpillars in the genus Datana.

9 thoughts on “Azalea Caterpillar”

      • The reason I ask… I feed birds in my yard and have a heavy infestation of azalea caterpillars on my azaleas. With a large variety of bird species having the opportunity to feed on them I don’t see it happening.

  1. I just picked about 30 white caterpillars with blue black heads and black spot on rear end off of my small azalea bush. They were approximately 1″ long. They have almost defoliated it. What should I do to preserve what’s left of my azalea? What kind of caterpillar is this one?


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