Currently viewing the category: "Tussock Moth Caterpillars"

Subject: Furry Green Caterpillar?
Location: Northeast Georgia (near Helen)
June 27, 2017 12:32 pm
Found 2 of these guys on my Pothos plant this morning, and no idea what they are.
They crawled right onto the stick and I moved them away to a tree.
Signature: Frog

Definite Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Dear Frog,
This is a Tussock Moth Caterpillar in the genus
Orgyia, and because of its pale coloration, we believe it is a Definite Tussock Moth Caterpillar which we identified on BugGuide.


Subject: It can’t be a gypsy moth caterpillar!
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
May 28, 2017 5:08 am
Hi. I live on Long Island, in NY. I have scrub oak trees in the front and back of my small yard. Every year we get caterpillars that come down on silk strings and then crawl up my trees and munch on the leaves and poop on the ground. Every single person here is saying that they are gypsy moth caterpillars, and that certainly fits the description, yet nobody bothers to look at them. They do not have double dots going down their backs and none of them are blue. They have single red dots going down their backs and some tiny yellow dots in pairs and on their heads and tails.
Please, can you help me to correctly identify these caterpillars? Thank you!!!
Signature: Jenny

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

Hi Jenny,
Our first reaction was that they act like Gypsy Moth Caterpillars and they resemble Gypsy Moth Caterpillars, but they are different.  We then did a web search of Caterpillars and Long Island and found the Alternative Earth Care Tree & Lawn Systems site and the pictured Gypsy Moth Caterpillar looks exactly like the image you submitted.  This brings up several possibilities in our mind, and demands additional research.  First is that there is a Long Island variation on the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar and second is that perhaps this is an earlier instar than that typically shown.  Caterpillars molt five times and their appearance often changes startlingly, so different instars might appear to be different species.  The site states:  “The caterpillar larvae are about ¼” long and are black in color. As they grow they develop black hairs and colored spots and can eventually grow to 2 ½” long.”  Since it is just the end of May, the early instar possibility seems most valid as the caterpillars feed into mid-summer.  This BugGuide image appears to be a transitional phase between your individual and the more typically pictured Gypsy Moth Caterpillar.  This BugGuide image from mid May also has coloration similar to your individual, so we are convinced that your individual is indeed a Gypsy Moth Caterpillar.  Perhaps you will entertain the thought of sending us an additional image later in the summer when your caterpillars should be maturing and more closely resembling the red and blue spotted appearance generally pictured for Gypsy Moth Caterpillars?  BugGuide does state:  “‘The larval stage (caterpillar) is hairy, and a mature larva is 50-65 mm long with a yellow and black head. Behind the head on the thorax and abdomen are five pairs of blue spots (tubercles) followed by six pairs of brick red spots.'(from Penn State website) Please note: earlier instars (under about 12mm) do not exhibit the characteristic blue and brick red pairs of tubercles, nor the yellow and black head. Look instead for ‘first thoracic segment with prominent subdorsal warts bearing numerous long setae that makes face look “eared.” ‘(Caterpillars of Eastern Forests). ”

Subject: Furry stick bug
Location: Knoxville, tn
April 29, 2017 10:50 am
Found this guy crawling on my deck and have never seen anything like it. It looked furry, had an orange head with antennas and some kind of tail. Almost like a cross between a stick bug, centipede and butterfly. What is this?
It was found mid day, in the shade on April 29, 2017. Its a warm day in the 80s.
Signature: Amanda

Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Dear Amanda,
This is a Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillar,
Orgyia leucostigma, and it should be handled with caution as the hairs might cause irritation in sensitive people.  According to BugGuide:  “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.”

Subject: caterpillar
Location: sao paulo, brazil
November 29, 2016 5:21 pm
I have found many of this caterpillar all over a bindweed I have at my house’s garden. They are eating the leaves and I have got a burn when I stepped over one of them. I would like to know if it will become a butterfly – and therefore I should let them in peace – or if it is dangerous and I should kill them (in this case, what type of poison I should use).
Signature: Ana Elisa Salles

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Dear Ana Elisa,
This is a Tussock Moth Caterpillar in the subfamily Lymantriinae, and many Tussock Moth Caterpillars have stinging hairs, as you learned.  The adult is a moth, not a butterfly, and we do not provide extermination advice.  Your caterpillar resembles North American Tussock Moths in the genus
Orgyia, but we have not found any images online from Brazil of black Tussock Moth Caterpillars with white tufts. 

Location: Sitio Inamong, Arakan Valley, North Cotabato, Philippines
November 15, 2016 4:10 am
Hi Mr. BugMan! I’d like to verify if this is a White Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar? Coz the 4 tufts toward the head are brown instead of the usual white tufts. Found this in a field of cogon grass. Thanks a lot!
Signature: -Dana

Tussock Moth Caterpillar:  Orgyia species

Tussock Moth Caterpillar: Orgyia species

Dear Dana,
Your caterpillar bears an uncanny resemblance to the White Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar,
Orgyia leucostigma, but because of your location and the subtle differences in color, we suspect your individual is a closely related species in the same genus.   Project Noah has a dead ringer for your caterpillar posted, but alas, it is only identified to the genus level.  Project Noah indicates:  “The caterpillar, or larval, stage of these species often has a distinctive appearance of alternating bristles and haired projections. Like other families of moths, many Tussock Moth caterpillars have urticating hairs (often hidden among longer, softer hairs) which can cause painful reactions if they come into contact with skin.”

Subject: Unusual Bug
Location: Columbia, SC
October 10, 2016 6:22 am
Students found this bug at school and we would like to identify it.
Signature: L Adair

Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Dear L Adair,
This is most likely a Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillar,
Orgyia leucostigma, but we would not rule out that it is a different species in a genus that has many similar looking caterpillars.  You should warn any young children to avoid handling Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillars because, according to BugGuide:  “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.”