47 Hairy and Fuzzy Moths Common in Your Garden

In this article, we uncover the fascinating world of hairy and fuzzy moths, a diverse group of insects that are often overlooked yet play crucial roles in our gardens and natural ecosystems.

These moths, with their unique and sometimes striking appearances, range from the delicately patterned Luna Moth to the robust and colorful Rosy Maple Moth.

We will explore their physical characteristics, behaviors, and the roles they play in the environment. From their intriguing life cycles to their interactions with plants and other species, these moths offer a glimpse into the complexity and beauty of nature.

Most Common Hairy and Fuzzy Moths: Saturniidae (Giant Silkworm Moths)

Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus)

The Polyphemus moth is a North American member of the family Saturniidae. It’s named after the giant Polyphemus in Greek mythology due to its large, conspicuous eyespots.

These moths have a wingspan of 4 to 6 inches and are characterized by their brownish-tan color, with eye-like patterns on each wing.

The eyespots are a defense mechanism intended to scare off predators. They are nocturnal and don’t have functioning mouthparts, so they don’t eat during their adult lives.

Hairy and Fuzzy Moths Common in Your Garden
Male Polyphemus Moth

Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis)

The Imperial Moth is a large, striking moth with a wingspan ranging from 3 to 7 inches. It exhibits sexual dimorphism: females are larger and yellow with brown or purple markings, while males are smaller with more vibrant yellow and less brown.

These moths are found in forests and rural areas. The larvae feed on a variety of host plants, making them quite adaptable. As adults, they do not feed and are primarily nocturnal.

Luna Moth (Actias luna)

The Luna Moth, known for its pale green wings and long, trailing hindwing tails, is a symbol of beauty in the moth world.

With a wingspan of up to 4.5 inches, these moths have eyespots on their wings to deter predators.

They are found in North American forests and are nocturnal. Remarkably, adult Luna Moths don’t have mouths and don’t eat; they live only about a week, with their sole purpose being to mate.

Promethea Silkmoth (Callosamia promethea)

The Promethea Silkmoth, part of the Saturniidae family, is known for its considerable size, with a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches.

Males are dark brown or black with vibrant, reddish-brown edges, while females are larger and lighter, with more muted tones.

These moths are unique for their day-flying tendencies, unlike most other large moths. They are commonly found in deciduous forests where their larvae feed on a variety of tree species.

Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

The Cecropia Moth is the largest native moth in North America, boasting a wingspan of 5 to 7 inches.

They have striking red and white stripes on their body, with eye-catching eyespots on their wings.

These moths are nocturnal and don’t eat as adults. Their caterpillars are equally impressive, known for their size and bright coloration.

The Cecropia Moth is a solitary species, often found in large, open woods or forest edges.

Cecropia Moth

Io Moth (Automeris io)

The Io Moth is notable for its dramatic eyespots on the hindwings, used to startle predators. These moths have a wingspan of 2.5 to 3.5 inches.

Males are yellow with a single eyespot on each hindwing, while females are brown with more pronounced eyespots.

They are found in various habitats, including forests, fields, and gardens.

The larvae are covered in venomous spines that can cause painful reactions in humans, making them one of the few moths with a direct defense against predators.

Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda)

The Rosy Maple Moth, belonging to the Saturniidae family, is known for its striking pink and yellow coloration. It has a small wingspan of about 1.25 to 2 inches. The upper wings are yellow with pink edges, while the lower wings are mostly pink.

This moth is found in various parts of North America, particularly in areas with maple trees, as the larvae feed primarily on maple leaves. They are nocturnal but are often seen resting on tree trunks during the day.

The Rosy Maple Moth’s vibrant colors make it one of the more visually distinctive and easily recognizable moths.

Pink-Striped Oakworm Moth (Anisota virginiensis)

The Pink-Striped Oakworm Moth is a member of the Saturniidae family. It has a wingspan of about 2 to 2.5 inches. The males are smaller and brown with a pink stripe running down each wing, while the females are larger and have a more muted coloration.

These moths are commonly found in deciduous forests in Eastern North America. Their larvae, known as oakworms, feed on the leaves of various oak species.

The Pink-Striped Oakworm Moth is known for its mass emergence in certain years, which can lead to noticeable defoliation of affected oak trees.

Orange-tipped Oakworm Moth (Anisota senatoria)

The Orange-tipped Oakworm Moth, also part of the Saturniidae family, is notable for its distinct sexual dimorphism. The males are smaller with a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches and are dark brown with orange tips on their wings.

Females are larger, with a wingspan of up to 2.5 inches, and are yellowish-brown without the orange tips. These moths are found throughout the eastern United States, particularly in wooded areas where oak trees are abundant.

The larvae feed on oak leaves and are known for their gregarious behavior during the early stages of development.

The Orange-tipped Oakworm Moth is a common sight in late summer and early fall, often attracted to lights at night.

Erebidae

Fall Webworm Moth (Hyphantria cunea)

The Fall Webworm Moth, a member of the Erebidae family, is known for the conspicuous web-like structures its larvae create on trees. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.5 inches and is predominantly white with small black spots.

They are widespread and found in various habitats, including forests, orchards, and gardens. The larvae are social and feed on a wide range of deciduous trees, often causing noticeable defoliation.

Fall Webworm Moth

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma americanum)

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth, also in the Erebidae family, is notable for the tent-like structures its larvae build in the branches of trees. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches, with brown or reddish-brown forewings and a white stripe running down the back.

They are commonly found in deciduous forests and nearby areas. The caterpillars are a familiar sight in spring and can defoliate trees if present in large numbers.

Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma disstria)

The Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth is similar to the Eastern Tent Caterpillar but does not actually build tents. The adult moths have a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches, with blue-gray to brownish forewings marked with a row of keyhole-shaped white spots.

They are found in forests and wooded areas. The larvae feed on a variety of deciduous trees and are known for their habit of forming “processions” when moving from one location to another.

Southern Flannel Moth (Megalopyge opercularis)

The Southern Flannel Moth, part of the Erebidae family, is small but notable for its striking appearance. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1 inch and is covered in long, orange-yellow hairs, giving it a furry appearance.

They are found in wooded areas and gardens. The larvae, known as puss caterpillars, are also hairy and are one of the most venomous caterpillars in North America, with stings causing severe pain.

Dot-lined White (Artace cribrarius)

The Dot-lined White Moth, another Erebidae member, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The moths are white with small black dots and lines across the wings, giving them a dotted appearance.

They are commonly found in forests and woodlands. The larvae feed on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs.

Black-waved Flannel Moth (Megalopyge crispata)

The Black-waved Flannel Moth, also in the Erebidae family, is known for its distinctive wing pattern. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.5 inches and is creamy white with wavy black lines across the wings.

They are found in forests and wooded areas. The larvae, like those of the Southern Flannel Moth, are hairy and can cause painful stings if touched.

Flannel Moth: Megalopyge albicollis we believe

Crowned Slug Moth (Isa textula)

The Crowned Slug Moth, belonging to the Erebidae family, has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.5 inches. The adult moths are gray or brown with a subtle crown-like pattern on the wings.

They are found in deciduous forests and woodlands. The larvae are unique in appearance, resembling slugs, and feed on the leaves of various trees.

Spanish Moth (Xanthopastis timais)

The Spanish Moth, another member of the Erebidae family, is striking with a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The moths are black with bright red and yellow markings, making them quite distinctive.

They are found in a variety of habitats, including gardens and fields. The larvae feed on a range of plants, including ornamental flowers and vegetables.

Brown-tail Moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)

The Brown-tail Moth, part of the Erebidae family, is known for its tuft of brown hairs at the end of its abdomen. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches and is white with a brown tail. They are found in coastal areas and open habitats.

The larvae are covered in tiny hairs that can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems in humans. They feed on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs.

Western Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma californicum)

The Western Tent Caterpillar Moth, a member of the Erebidae family, is closely related to the Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth. It has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The adult moths are brown or reddish-brown with a band of blue spots and a white stripe down the back.

They are found in various habitats, including forests and orchards, across western North America. The larvae are known for constructing large, communal silk tents in the branches of host trees, primarily in the spring.

Spiny Oak-slug Moth (Euclea delphinii)

The Spiny Oak-slug Moth, also in the Erebidae family, is notable for its brightly colored larvae. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.5 inches and is typically yellow or green with pink and yellow markings.

They are found in deciduous forests and woodlands. The larvae, known as oak slugs, are covered in stinging spines and feed on a variety of broadleaf trees and shrubs.

Spiny Oak Slug Moth

Smaller Parasa Moth (Parasa chloris)

The Smaller Parasa Moth, part of the Erebidae family, is a small moth with a wingspan of about 1 inch. The adults are green with a subtle pink or yellow hue and a small eyespot on each wing.

They are found in wooded areas and gardens. The larvae are bright green with a red stripe and blue spots, feeding on a variety of plants, including shrubs and trees.

Echo Moth (Seirarctia echo)

The Echo Moth, another Erebidae member, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The moths are typically brown or gray with intricate patterns on their wings, providing camouflage against tree bark.

They are found in forests and wooded areas. The larvae feed on a variety of plants and are known for their striking appearance, with bright colors and tufts of hair.

White Flannel Moth (Norape ovina)

The White Flannel Moth, belonging to the Erebidae family, is known for its fluffy, white appearance. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.5 inches and is covered in white, wool-like hairs.

They are found in forests and wooded areas. The larvae, also covered in white hairs, can cause a painful sting if touched and feed on a variety of trees and shrubs.

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)

The Giant Leopard Moth, a member of the Erebidae family, is striking with a wingspan of about 2 to 3 inches. The adults are white with black spots, resembling a leopard’s coat. They are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, meadows, and gardens.

The larvae are known as woolly bears and are black with red or orange bands. They feed on a variety of plants and are often seen crossing roads or paths.

White-marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma)

The White-marked Tussock Moth, also in the Erebidae family, has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.5 inches. The adult males are gray or brown with distinctive white markings, while the females are flightless and grayish-white.

They are found in forests and wooded areas. The larvae are very distinctive with tufts of hair and can cause skin irritation if touched. They feed on a variety of trees and shrubs.

Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)

The Gypsy Moth, a notorious member of the Erebidae family, is an invasive species known for its destructive larvae. The adult male moth has a wingspan of about 1.5 inches and is brown with dark markings, while the female is larger, white, and often flightless.

They are found in a variety of habitats, including forests and urban areas. The caterpillars are hairy and can defoliate large areas of forest.

Source: OpuntiaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Saddleback Caterpillar Moth (Acharia stimulea)

The Saddleback Caterpillar Moth, part of the Erebidae family, is small with a wingspan of about 1 inch. The adult moths are brown or gray with subtle markings.

They are found in forests, gardens, and meadows. The larvae are more notable, with a green “saddle” on their back and stinging spines. They feed on a variety of plants and can cause a painful sting if touched.

Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae)

The Hickory Tussock Moth, another Erebidae member, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The adult moths are white with black markings and a bit of yellow or brown. They are found in deciduous forests and woodlands.

The larvae are white with black tufts of hair and are known to feed on hickory, walnut, and other trees. Like some other tussock moth caterpillars, they can cause skin irritation if touched.

Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris)

The Banded Tussock Moth, belonging to the Erebidae family, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The adult moths are characterized by their yellowish-brown color with bands of darker brown or gray across the wings.

They are commonly found in a variety of habitats, including forests, meadows, and gardens. The caterpillars are distinctive, with long tufts of hair and bands of black and yellow, and they feed on a wide range of deciduous trees and shrubs.

Milkweed Tussock Moth (Euchaetes egle)

The Milkweed Tussock Moth, also a member of the Erebidae family, has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.5 inches. The adults are gray or brown with a subtle pattern on their wings.

They are named for their larvae’s primary food source, milkweed, making them common in meadows and fields where milkweed grows. The caterpillars are striking, with tufts of black, white, and orange hairs, and they play a role in the ecosystem by feeding on milkweed, a plant toxic to many other species.

Yellow Woolly Bear (Spilosoma virginica)

The Yellow Woolly Bear, part of the Erebidae family, is known for its larval form. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches and is white with small black dots. They are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and gardens.

The caterpillars, known as woolly bears, are yellow or orange with long, soft hairs and feed on a variety of plants, including dandelions and other weeds.

Source: xpdaCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum)

The Buff Ermine, another Erebidae family member, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The moths are typically white or creamy yellow with small black dots and a few larger black spots.

They are common in a variety of habitats, including gardens, meadows, and woodlands. The caterpillars are hairy and feed on a variety of plants, including nettles and docks.

White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda)

The White Ermine Moth, closely related to the Buff Ermine, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The adults are white with numerous black dots scattered across their wings.

They are found in a range of habitats, including gardens, hedgerows, and grasslands. The caterpillars are hairy and feed on a wide range of plants, including nettles, docks, and dandelions.

Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda)

The Pale Tussock Moth, part of the Erebidae family, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The adult moths are gray or brown with a distinctive fluffy appearance.

They are commonly found in woodlands and gardens. The caterpillars are notable for their bright yellow or green color with tufts of hair and a red tail. They feed on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs.

Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua)

The Vapourer Moth, another Erebidae member, has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.5 inches. The males are brown with distinctive feathered antennae and a white stripe across the wings, while the females are flightless and grayish-brown.

They are found in a variety of habitats, including gardens, parks, and woodlands. The caterpillars are hairy with tufts of red and yellow hair and feed on a wide range of trees and shrubs.

Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis)

The Yellow-tail, belonging to the Erebidae family, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The adult moths are white with a yellow or orange tuft at the end of their abdomen, giving them their name.

They are commonly found in woodlands and gardens. The caterpillars are hairy and black with a row of red spots down the back and feed on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs.

Source: Charles J. Sharp CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Noctuidae

White-speck Moth (Mythimna unipuncta)

The white-speck moth, classified under the Noctuidae family, is known for its subtle yet distinctive appearance. It has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The forewings are typically a pale brown or gray color with a small, white dot (from which it gets its name) near the center.

This species is widespread and adaptable, found in various habitats including grasslands, agricultural areas, and gardens. The larvae, known as armyworms, can be agricultural pests, feeding on a wide range of crops and grasses.

The White-speck Moth is nocturnal and is commonly attracted to lights at night.

Arcigera Flower Moth (Schinia arcigera)

The Arcigera Flower Moth, also part of the Noctuidae family, is notable for its affinity to certain flowers, which its larvae feed on. This moth has a wingspan of approximately 1 to 1.5 inches.

The coloration of its wings is typically a blend of brown, tan, and orange hues, allowing it to camouflage effectively with its surroundings. It’s often found in meadows, fields, and prairies where its host plants grow.

The Arcigera Flower Moth is a nocturnal species, but it can also be seen at dusk, feeding on nectar.

Marsh Dagger (Acronicta insularis)

The Marsh Dagger, belonging to the Noctuidae family, is a species with a relatively understated appearance. It has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The forewings are usually gray or brown with various darker markings and lines, while the hindwings are paler.

This moth is typically found in marshy or wetland areas, hence its name. The larvae are known to feed on a variety of herbaceous plants and are sometimes found in gardens. The Marsh Dagger is primarily nocturnal and is often attracted to artificial lights.

Source: DumiCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dot Moth (Melanchra persicariae)

The Dot Moth, another member of the Noctuidae family, is recognized for its distinctive dotted pattern. It has a wingspan of around 1.5 to 2 inches. The forewings are generally dark brown or gray with a series of small white dots and intricate patterns, giving it a speckled appearance.

This moth is common in a variety of habitats, including gardens, woodlands, and grasslands across Europe. The larvae feed on a range of plants, including nettles and dock, making them quite versatile.

The Dot Moth is nocturnal and is frequently seen at light sources during the night.

Lasiocampidae

Large Tolype Moth (Tolype velleda)

The Large Tolype Moth, a member of the Lasiocampidae family, is known for its furry appearance. It has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2.5 inches. The moths are generally gray or brown with a woolly texture, and the females are typically larger than the males.

They are found in wooded areas, particularly near deciduous trees, which serve as food for the larvae. The caterpillars are hairy and can be a nuisance in large numbers due to their feeding habits. The Large Tolype Moth is nocturnal and is often attracted to lights.

American Lappet Moth (Phyllodesma americana)

The American Lappet Moth, also in the Lasiocampidae family, is characterized by its unique leaf-like wing patterns. The wingspan ranges from 1 to 2 inches. The coloration of the wings is typically a blend of browns and grays, helping it to camouflage against tree bark.

This moth is found in forests and wooded areas across North America. The caterpillars have a distinctive appearance with fringed projections on their sides, resembling lappets. They feed on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs.

American Lappet Moth

Acrolophidae

Eastern Grass Tubeworm Moth (Acrolophus plumifrontella)

Belonging to the Acrolophidae family, the Eastern Grass Tubeworm Moth is a small species with a wingspan of about 0.75 to 1 inch. The moths are usually brown or gray with a distinctive tuft of hair on their head.

They are commonly found in grassy areas, meadows, and fields. The larvae create protective cases or tubes out of silk and grass, which they carry around for protection. This behavior gives the species its common name.

Frilly Grass Tubeworm Moth (Acrolophus popeanella)

The Frilly Grass Tubeworm Moth, another member of the Acrolophidae family, is similar in size and habitat to the Eastern Grass Tubeworm Moth. It has a wingspan of approximately 0.75 to 1 inch. The moths are typically brown or tan with a fringed appearance.

They are found in grasslands and meadows, where the larvae feed on grasses and construct silk tubes mixed with grass blades for shelter.

Bombycidae

Spotted Apatelodes (Apatelodes torrefacta)

The Spotted Apatelodes, part of the Bombycidae family, is known for its striking appearance. It has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The moths are creamy white or light tan with small black spots scattered across their wings.

They are found in deciduous forests and woodlands. The larvae are also visually distinctive, being bright green with red and white stripes, feeding on a variety of trees and shrubs.

Thaumetopoeidae

Pine Processionary (Thaumetopoea pityocampa)

The Pine Processionary, belonging to the Thaumetopoeidae family, is notable for its unique larval behavior. The adult moths have a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches and are generally gray or brown.

They are found in regions with pine trees, as the larvae feed exclusively on pine needles. The caterpillars are known for moving in nose-to-tail processions, hence the name.

These caterpillars can be a pest in pine forests and are also known for their irritating hairs, which can cause allergic reactions.

Source: Ben Sale from UKCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Notodontidae

White-dotted Prominent (Nadata gibbosa)

The White-dotted Prominent, a member of the Notodontidae family, has a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. The moths are typically gray or brown with a distinctive white dot on each forewing.

They are found in deciduous forests and woodlands, where the larvae feed on the leaves of various trees, including oaks and maples. The caterpillars are known for their unique posture, raising their rear end when disturbed.

This moth is primarily nocturnal and is often attracted to light sources.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the diversity and complexity of hairy and fuzzy moths in our gardens and natural environments are truly remarkable.

From the striking patterns of the Giant Leopard Moth to the unique behaviors of the Pine Processionary, each species plays a vital role in their respective ecosystems.

While some, like the Gypsy Moth, are known for their destructive larvae, others, such as the Milkweed Tussock Moth, contribute to the balance of their habitats by feeding on specific plants.

Understanding these moths’ life cycles, behaviors, and habitats not only enhances our appreciation of nature’s intricacies but also underscores the importance of conserving diverse ecosystems where these fascinating creatures thrive.

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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