How To Get Rid Of Woolly Bear Caterpillar? 5 Simple Techniques

Are woolly bear caterpillars eating up the leaves of your precious plants? Here is how to get rid of woolly bear caterpillars from your garden.

So you have a beautiful garden that is full of aesthetic flowers and plants, but all of a sudden, you start noticing big holes in the leaves of the plants!

This might be the work of the wooly bear caterpillars. These worms consume the leaves of various flowering plants and make them look hideous and unpleasant.

If you want to save your garden from this nightmare, read the article to know the various ways through which you can eliminate the wooly bear caterpillars from your yard.

Pests Destroying Your Garden? Learn the secrets to eliminating pests in your yard or garden in the most earth friendly way possible.

How To Get Rid Of Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Why Are Woolly Bear Caterpillars Pests?

Wooly bears are mostly harmless to humans as they don’t bite and are non-toxic. However, the bristles in their bodies can cause severe irritation to the human skin.

Adding to that, they actively eat the leaves of flowering plants, leaving big holes in them. This affects the aesthetic value of your flowering garden and can also be dangerous for the plants.

They also infest other useful leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage.

Due to these reasons, wooly bears are considered as pests, no matter how cute they look from afar or how well they predict the weather!

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How To Get Rid of Them Naturally?

As mentioned above, these fuzzy caterpillars can be a big problem for your garden. Therefore you need to take proper measures to eliminate them.

It is good to use natural ways to get rid of them, as chemicals and insecticides can affect the fertility of the soil and also kill other beneficial insects.

Here are a few tricks that you can use to get rid of caterpillar infestations naturally.

Woolly Bear

Use a mixture of pepper and garlic

A mixture of pepper and garlic can be used in a homemade spray to remove the woolly bears. Dissolve the pepper-garlic mixture in some water and put it in a sprayer.

Once that is done, sprinkle it directly into the worms, and as the liquid gets absorbed in their bodies, it will slowly kill them.

You can also spray it on plants and trees to keep these pests away.

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Use Vinegar

Most caterpillars don’t like the smell of vinegar. Therefore you can sprinkle a few drops of it in areas where you notice regular caterpillar activity.

This will drive them away from those spots, and they might look for other nearby plants to infest. You can also keep some decoy plants that are non-flowering so that they can move to those instead.

Remove logs and debris

During the winter, these caterpillars come to your yard in search of a warm spot to hibernate.

Unattended logs and debris are the perfect spots for them to live. This is why you must keep your yard clean and don’t leave debris unattended.

Painted Tiger Moth Woolly Bear in Mount Washington

Invite birds to your yard

Birds are one of the topmost predators of wooly bear caterpillars; therefore, having regular visits from them will be beneficial for you.

To attract these birds to your garden, you just need to find the right feeding seeds and sprinkle them in the yard, and they will finish the majority of caterpillars from the spot.

Use a worm barrier

Worm barriers are tough piece of cloth that is wrapped entirely around a plant to keep it safe from pests.

These are ideal for keeping flying insects like moths away from plants. Since wooly bears the larval form of tiger moths, the barrier will restrict the adult moths from laying eggs in the plant.

This will keep it safe.

Other Methods to Remove Them

Before using any insecticides to get rid of woolly bear caterpillars, make sure that they are not harmful to other beneficial insects.

Mentioned below are two safe chemical methods that you can use to get rid of wooly bear caterpillars from your garden:

Pheromone traps

As the name suggests, these traps use pheromones to lure insects. Here, once the insects fly to the trap, they get stuck on a sticky surface.

Put it in areas where tiger moths usually show up to lay eggs, and if you kill the tiger moths, they won’t be able to lay the eggs.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Bacillus Thuringiensis Berliner

The Bacillus Thuringiensis Berliner is a bacteria that is highly effective in killing wooly bears.

The good news is that this bacteria doesn’t cause any harm to plants and is environmentally safe to use.

It is also an active ingredient in many of the insecticides that help to control pests from damaging useful plants.

How To Prevent Them From Infesting Your Plants?

Here are a few useful ways to them these species of caterpillars away from plants:

  1. Make a homemade pepper spray using peppers, onion, garlic, and water. Dissolve it properly and spray it on the plants to keep these pests away.
  2. Catch the caterpillar crawling in your garden with a glove and put them in a bucket full of lukewarm soapy water; this will kill these pests instantly. Throw away the dead caterpillars from the solution and repeat the process.
  3. Have plants like cilantro, aster, basil, yarrow, and more in your garden. The aromatic smell of these plants will drive the pests away.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Frequently Asked Questions

Are woolly bear caterpillars destructive?

Wooly bear caterpillars do not destroy anything in your home, but they can destroy the precious plants in your gardens.
Being herbivorous in nature, they need a lot of food which they obtain from eating leaves of herbaceous plants, trees, and leafy vegetables.

How long do Wooly bears stay caterpillars?

It usually takes a few weeks for the wooly bears to start the pupating process, but there are some species of wooly bears that take much longer than this.
For example, the arctic moth can take up to 14 years to become a complete adult.

What does a lot of woolly bear caterpillars mean?

If you find a bunch of wooly bears in your yard, it is probably because there is a lot of food available for them in your yard.
Moreover, it might have nice warm spots where they can hibernate throughout the winter before emerging as big healthy tiger moths.

Will vinegar stop caterpillars?

Yes, vinegar is an effective substance to get rid of caterpillars. Usually, the caterpillars do not like the smell of vinegar.
Thus, spraying a few drops of it in worm-infested areas can really help to drive them away from the area.

Wrap Up

Wooly bears might be harmless to humans, but they are bad news for your garden. These insects will chow down on the leaves of your favorite plants, making them look hideous.

On top of that, once they grow up to become moths, it is gross to have them flying around your garden.

Therefore use the tips and tricks given in the article to get rid of them, and always remember that it is wise to use natural remedies instead of using chemicals that affect the plants and the soil.

Thank you for reading the article.

Reader Emails

Wooly bear caterpillars have many cultural connotations, but at the end of the day, a pest is a pest. Many of our readers have reported how these caterpillars have destroyed leaves on their ornamental plants. 

Moreover, their hair can also cause itching and allergies in humans, which is another problem when these bugs are present in large numbers in the garden.

Do read about the experiences of our readers with regard to them.

Letter 1 – Tiger Moth

 

Beautiful Moth
Say this moth in late September in Richmond VA. What is it?? Thanks
Melanie Sears

Hi Melanie,
This is a Tiger Moth. Tiger Moths are a large family. This individual is in the genus Grammia.

Letter 2 – Tiger Moth

 

moth
Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 6:25 PM
what type of moth is this? I think it may be an underwing, I have seen no photos anywhere of this same moth.
Elaine photo girl
North east MA

Tiger Moth
Tiger Moth

Hi Elaine,
This is actually a Tiger Moth in the family Arctiidae, most likely from the genus Grammia. There are many similar looking moths in this genus and we do not feel confident trying to identify your specimen to the species level, but a glance at the images on BugGuide will show you some possibilities.

Letter 3 – Tiger Moth

 

Pink Moth
Location: Calf Creek Canyon, Utah
November 20, 2010 3:42 am
Found this moth in Utah.
Signature: Gini

Tiger Moth

Hi Gini,
We identified you Tiger Moth on BugGuide as
Arachnis citra, a species with no common name.  Interestingly, all the specimens posted to BugGuide were found in Utah.  The Butterflies and Moths of North America website also indicates it it found in Nevada and Colorado.

Letter 4 – Tiger Moth

 

Subject: Mexican Tiger Moth in New Hampshire?
Location: Meredith, NH
July 8, 2012 11:38 am
Hi, are Mexican Tiger Moths normally in New Hampshire?
Signature: …found by Emma in Meredith, NH

Tiger Moth

Hi Emma,
Though this is a Tiger Moth, it is not a Mexican Tiger Moth which is only reported on BugGuide from the southwest.  BugGuide has a nice representation of Tiger Moths and there are several genera that look very similar, including
Apantesis, Grammia and Notarctia which is where the Mexican Tiger Moth is classified.  Exact species identification might not be possible without an examination of the specimen, but we would guess that this is most likely a Tiger Moth in the genus Grammia, If you are interested in learning more about your local moths, you should see if there is a National Moth Week event in your vicinity.

Letter 5 – Tiger Moth is Grammia ornata with unknown “cocoon”

 

Subject: moth identification help
Location: Benicia, California
April 10, 2014 10:18 pm
My kids and I love bugs. We found an egg sac in our yard that we have not seen before. We have been keeping an eye on it for a about a month (although I don’t know for sure how long it had been there before we found it). It hatched this morning and we found a beautiful moth (which we also have not seen before). I’m hoping you can give us some more info about what kind of moth it is exactly. Thanks so much.
Signature: Christie

Tiger Moth
Tiger Moth:  Grammia ornata

Hi Christie,
This is a beautiful moth.  It is a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, and it looks like a member of the genus
Grammia, however we are having difficulty finding a visual match on BugGuide because of the black base on the underwings and the intricate pattern on the forewings. We also find the cocoon to be unusual in that no caterpillar hairs have been incorporated in its construction.  We have decided to contact our friend and Arctiid expert Julian Donahue for his opinion.

Tiger Moth
Tiger Moth:  Grammia ornata

Hi again Christie,
We emailed Julian and then telephoned, but he is running errands.  We now believe this is
Grammia ornata, and you can see a selection of images on BugGuide including this image on BugGuide which shows the black base to the underwings.  The species is found in California.  We are awaiting confirmation from Julian.  We could not locate an online image of the cocoon of Grammia ornata for comparison. 

Cocoon
Unidentified “Cocoon”

Julian Donahue Confirms Identification:  Grammia ornata
You’re right on, Daniel. Grammia ornata is a western North America species, occuring from Ventura Co., California north through the Pacific Northwest to southern British Columbia, Canada, east to northern Utah, and western Wyoming and Montana. (South of Ventura Co., California, it is replaced by the similar G. hewletti, described from San Diego Co., California).
Attached is a copy of Chris Schmidt’s revision of Grammia, which has color plates illustrating all the species. Both species are illustrated on p. 578, figs. 36 & 37.  Schmidt_2009_Grammia
Julian

Thank you so much for your reply. I was wondering about the cocoon/egg sac as well. It looked like thousands of tiny oval eggs inside a silk web, but in the shape of a caterpillar. This one was on our deck under a planter, but we found two more on the underside of leaves  on a  nearby plant with the web curling the leaf around it. We have not seen any actual caterpillars in the garden, so now I’m wondering the sac and the moth were coincidental occurrences?? I would love to know more about the cocoon/sac if possible.
Thanks again!
Christie

Hi Christie,
In your original email, you implied that you were certain the moth emerged from the cocoon.  Now you don’t seem certain.  In our opinion, the moth and the cocoon are not related. 

Julian Donahue confirms our suspicions about the “Cocoon”
The “cocoon” doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen; almost 100% positive it’s not arctiid in origin (sorta looks like a sawfly larva to me, but that’s a wild guess and I have nothing to back it up).
Julian

 

Letter 6 – Salt Marsh Moth

 

Subject: What is this beautiful creature?
Location: Long Beach, CA
May 17, 2014 11:06 am
Hi Dan!
I found this little guy in my tire when I went to go move my car. I thought it was dead and brought it inside, but it’s alive! It looks like an owl, it’s so pretty but I don’t know what it is.
Thanks a bunch!
-Bettina 🙂
Signature: Beautifully Befuddled by This Bug

Tiger Moth
Salt Marsh Moth

Dear Beautifully Befuddled Bettina,
This little bit of loveliness is a Tiger Moth commonly called the Virginian Tiger Moth
, Spilosoma virginica.  Though the yellow abdomen is quite distinctive on this dazzlingly white moth, very few of the images on BugGuide showcase that feature, except this image on BugGuide with the wing being held by fingers.  In that sense, your image displaying the abdomen is an internet rarity.  Despite the misleading name, the Virginian Tiger Moth is found across the country from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  I hope you are well Bettina.  

Tiger Moth
Salt Marsh Moth

Correction:  Salt Marsh Moth, Estigmene acrea
Thanks to a comment from Nick, we realized we had misidentified this Salt Marsh Moth, Estigmene acrea.  More information on the Salt Marsh Moth is available on BugGuide.

Tiger Moth
Salt Marsh Moth

 

Letter 7 – Tiger Moth

 

Subject: Mystery Moth
Location: Delta, Utah
May 20, 2014 12:44 am
We saw a rather striking moth (by its antennae) in Delta, Utah (around 19 August) during daylight on the stucco wall outside our motel room. The moth was then blown off the wall by wind and fluttered to a nearby shrub, where I captured it and took the attached photo. I released the moth in a sheltered place (inside the foliage of another shrub) out of the high wind and where birds would not see it. The moth had geometric black triangles on white wings… it almost looked like an African batik fabric pattern. I haven’t seen another moth like it during our travels since then. When I rediscovered a photo, I thought I’d ask if you have any idea what it is? Thanks! Buggy Best Wishes,
Lori in Altadena, CA
Signature: Lori in Altadena, CA

Tiger Moth
Tiger Moth

Hi Lori,
While we cannot provide an exact species name, we are relatively certain that your Tiger Moth is in the genus
GrammiaThere are numerous species that have similar wing patterns and they can be viewed on BugGuide.

Letter 8 – Newly Eclosed Tiger Moth

 

Subject:  What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Eureka Springs, AR
Date: 04/11/2021
Time: 04:10 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Weirdly beautiful. Is it some kind of moth? Love the bug man!
How you want your letter signed:  Enti Em

Newly Eclosed Tiger Moth

Dear Enti Em,
This is a freshly eclosed Tiger Moth whose wings have not yet fully expanded after emerging from the pupa.  We believe it might be a Salt Marsh Moth female, but we would not eliminate a species in the same genus without a common name,
Estigmene albida, which is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 9 – Tiger Moth

 

Beautiful small moth…what is it???
I found this in my yard in southern New Jersey on 5/7/06. I have never seen one like it can you let me know what this one is?

This is a Tiger Moth, probably in the genus Apantesis.

Letter 10 – Tiger Moth

 

Having problems IDing some bugs
I have several pictures. I have been on your website for the past 3 1/2 hours and have been unable to locate all of our bug picture collection. I have sent you a few of them. I would appreciate your help. My 7 year old son and I have been collecting bug pictures for quite some time and have looked in several books and several web sites. Your’s by far is the best. Thanks. p.s. we live in central Oklahoma, that might prove helpful in the identification. Thanks again.
Mitzi

Hi Mitzi,
In order to streamline our posting, we will try to identify your creatures one at a time. BugGuide identifies this moth as one ot the Tiger Moths in the genus Apantesis and says: “Identification of species is difficult, and the taxonomy may still be rather confused. ” Our Insects of the Los Angeles Basin by Charles Hogue shows a nearly identical moth, Hewletts Tiger Moth, Notarctia hewletti, but we suspect the taxonomy is outdated.

Letter 11 – Mexican Tiger Moth

 

what kind of moth is this?
Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 12:15 PM
Hi,
I was walking up stairs to my apartment, and I noticed this beautiful moth in front of my doorstep. I have lived in southern California all my life and have been living in the desert city of Lancaster for about a year, and I have never seen a moth like this. It’s about an inch long and has a black abdomen with red stripe going down along the dorsal surface and a white stripe on the underbelly. Can you help me out?
Thank you, Allyson
Lancaster, CA

Mexican Tiger Moth
Mexican Tiger Moth

Hi Allyson,
We believe this is a Mexican Tiger Moth, Notarctia proxima.  Several of the images on BugGuide show the pretty red underwings.

Letter 12 – Mexican Noctuid Moth

 

Black and White Moth
July 13, 2009
This black and white moth was on our window at night, attracted to the light.
David Brownell
Jocotepec, JAL, Mexico

Unknown Mexican Moth
Unknown Mexican Moth

Hi David,
Thanks for writing back and providing a location.  Though it resembles the Giant Leopard Moth of the U.S., this is a distinct species.  Its legs are quite distinctive.  Though we believe it is a Tiger Moth, we aren’t certain.  We will contact Arctiid expert Julian Donahue to see if he can identify your moth.

Update from Julian Donahue
Mistaking this moth for a tiger moth is a common one–it has even fooled professional collectors from whom I used to purchase Mexican tiger moths for the Museum (consequently, we have a lot of them in the collection!). (ed. Note:  Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History)
The moth is in the Noctuidae (to which the tiger moths have been recently relegated as a subfamily: Arctiinae), in the subfamily Pantheinae. It is in the genus Lichnoptera, and its crisp black markings on a white ground make it very similar to Lichnoptera decora, the only member of the genus that occurs in the United States. Poole’s catalog of the world Noctuidae has 15 species of Lichnoptera, all but decora described from Mexico and various countries in Central and South America–and most of these are not as boldly marked as decora (I’m fairly certain that decora also occurs in Mexico). The larvae of L. decora have been reported feeding on apricot.
Julian P. Donahue

Another Correction
Daniel:
I believe this is an Owlet Moth (Noctuidae); subfamily Pantheinae.  It looks very similar to Lichnoptera decora, a species that also occurs in the southwestern USA, but it is virtually identical to photos of L. cavillator in my copy of “Butterflies and Moths of Costa Rica” (Chacon and Montero). Anyway, I believe Lichnoptera is the genus. Regards.
Karl
http://nitro.biosci.arizona.edu/zeeb/butterflies/figs/moths/Noctuidae/Pantheinae/L_decora.jpg

Letter 13 – Mexican Tiger Moth

 

Mexican Tiger Moth attracted to porch light
Location:  Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA
April 23,2012
This lovely Mexican Tiger Moth,
Notarctia proxima, was a very cooperative poser.  According to Hogue:  “The wooly-bear larva is a general feeder on low-growing herbaceous plants.”

Mexican Tiger Moth

Letter 14 – Mexican Tiger Moth

 

Subject: Mexican Tiger Moth
Location: Southern California
May 3, 2014 3:14 pm
Hello – my grandson and I found what we believe is a Mexican Tiger Moth in El Segundo right at the beach.
Signature: Barb

Mexican Tiger Moth
Mexican Tiger Moth

Hi Barb,
We agree that this is a Mexican Tiger Moth,
Notarctia proxima, and you can locate additional information on BugGuide.

Letter 15 – Tiger Moth from Sardinia, Italy

 

Subject: yellow european moth
Location: Centre/East of Sardinia, Italy
September 21, 2014 4:04 pm
Hi there bugman, my name’s Rossana, location Sardinia, East side, not in the coast but rather to thr centre of it.
Here is the moth I couldn’t identify through google. It is not, in my opinion, a leopard moth, since it is yellow rather than white. So who can it be?
Please let me know!
Btw, it was nice to find your site again after more than ten years! Congratulations, as it’s beautiful
Kind regards
Rossana
Signature: Rossana

Tiger Moth
Tiger Moth

Hi Rossana,
Common names can create some confusion as often the same name is given to more than one species, and sometimes one species can have more than one common name.  The scientific binomial system is much more accurate, and it eliminates confusion when one species has a range that extends across countries that speak different languages.  We suspect the Leopard Moth you mentioned is
Zeuzera pyrinaYour moth is a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, and we believe it might be Chelis maculosa which is pictured on Hants Moths.  Additional images can be found on Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa.  Another possibility is Cymbalophora pudica which can also be viewed on the Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa.

Letter 16 – Princely Tiger Moth from Mexico

 

Subject: Multicolored one!!!
Location: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
February 4, 2015 12:22 pm
Hello!
I am hoping you can help me identify this bug, I believe it is kind of a moth but I am not totally positive. I found it last Sunday in a protected forest area nearby. I was walking in a trail in the middle of the woods when the little multicolored body got my attention and pictured it.
Keep up the good work with your great site.
Signature: Magno

Tiger Moth
Princely Tiger Moth

Dear Magno,
This is a magnificently colored Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae.  We believe we have identified it as a Princely Tiger Moth,
Chrysocale principalis, thanks to images on Texas Entomology, including a mounted specimen from Jalisco.  FlickR has an image of a mating pair of Princely Tiger Moths and Naturalista has a nice image as well.  

Letter 17 – Tiger Moth

 

Subject: Which Tiger Moth Is This
Location: Sonoma County California
March 27, 2016 7:34 pm
Having trouble identifying this particular Tiger Moth. Can you help?
Signature: Wayne Ball

Tiger Moth
Tiger Moth

Dear Wayne,
Your Tiger Moth is in the genus
Grammia, and many species in this genus look very similar.  We believe this may be Grammia ornata which is reported from Sonoma County on BugGuide.

Letter 18 – Tiger Moth from Arizona

 

Subject: Arizona moth
Location: Pima County, AZ
April 24, 2017 4:03 pm
This moth was found in Madera Canyon, Pima County, AZ in mid-April 2017. This was the only angle we could get of it. Is it possible to identify from this photo?
Signature: Lois

Tiger Moth

Dear Lois,
This looks like a Tiger Moth in the genus
Ctenucha to us.  There are several species found in Arizona, but this looks most like a member of the rubroscapus/multifaria species complex that is found along the Pacific coastal areas according to BugGuide.

Letter 19 – Tiger Moth

 

Subject: White beetle moth bug
Location: West Virginia
June 18, 2017 12:31 pm
My friend found this and I want to know what it is too.
Signature: Kiana

Possibly Virginian Tiger Moth

Dear Kiana,
This is a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, and there are several similar looking white species.  We believe based on BugGuide images that this is a Virginian Tiger Moth,
Spilosoma virginica, but there are other similar looking species in the genus.

Letter 20 – Tiger Moth

 

Subject: cool looking Moth
Location: Western NY
July 18, 2017 4:03 am
I have been trying to find information on this Moth I found in Chautauqua County, NY at Peak’n Peak resort. It looks similar to other Moths I have seen but seems more elaborate. Can you please advise what it is?
Signature: really nicely??

Tiger Moth: Haploa species

We cannot currently access BugGuide, our favorite site for identifications of North American species, but we did locate images of the Reversed Haploa on Cirrus Images which states:  “They are clumsy fliers, their principle tactic being flying a short distance and hiding in the grass or low foliage (there are perhaps thousands of species that employ this tactic). Their camouflage does not appear effective in a foliage-green environment. They are hyper-alert and difficult to approach, perhaps as a result of their high visibility.”  Your Tiger Moth might be the Reversed Haploa, or it may be a different species in the genus.

Letter 21 – Bug of the Month August 2017: Northern Giant Flag Moth from New Mexico

 

Subject: Beautiful Moth in New Mexico
Location: Roswell, NM Chavez County
July 30, 2017 10:56 am
Hi Bugman,
My daughter and I found this beautiful moth at the base of a trashcan at a gas station in Roswell, NM. It just goes to show you can find beautiful things in the most unlikely places. We picked it up and took it a ways down the road and released in some trees. I have experience with silk moths, but this one had a proboscis. I was thinking a type of sphinx moth, but the body didn’t look right. Anyway, Google has let me down and I need help. Thanks for taking a look!
Signature: Trina W
Trina Woodall
Photographer/Owner
TripleDogDare Photography
www.TripleDogDarePhotography.com

Female Northern Giant Flag Moth

Dear Trina,
We are especially happy we wrote back to you to notify you there were no images.  Though we immediately recognized this as a Tiger Moth, we needed to identify the species and we found the Northern Giant Flag Moth,
Dysschema howardi, pictured on the Moth Photographers Group, and we verified its identity on BugGuide were we learned that only females have orange underwings, meaning your individual is a female.  We also learned on BugGuide that this is the only member of the genus found north of Mexico:  “1 sp. n. of Mex. (a second sp. may have strayed once from Mexico).   There are some 90(!) species of Dysschema, mostly in South America.”  The species is also pictured on the Butterflies and Moths of North America site.  Though we have a single posting of the caterpillar of the Northern Giant Flag Moth, your submission is the only image we have in our archives of an adult.

Female Northern Giant Flag Moth

Ed. Note:  This is one of the most beautiful North American moths that has ever been submitted to our site.  It is so incredibly delicate in pattern that we could not resist making it the Bug of the Month for August 2017.  According to BugGuide:  “‘Flag Moth’ is a common name coined for the subfamily Pericopinae by Hogue (1993).”  So, in a feeble attempt on the part of our editorial staff to explain the common name, this would be the northernmost ranging species in a genus in the Flag Moth subfamily Pericopinae recognized by Charles L. Hogue.

OMG! How exciting!!! I felt like there was something special about this moth. It’s funny, I seem to have interesting bug experiences when I travel here. Several years ago, I submitted a picture of a Hercules beetle with my son’s Hot Wheels car. We had found the poor fellow in a grocery store parking lot where local kids were poking it with a stick. I’ve been enjoying your site ever since. Thanks for the honor, I’m pleased I was able to submit something interesting!

Trina Woodall

Wow Trina,
That was ten years ago.  We did not have the Bug Humanitarian Award tag at that time, but we need to retroactively tag that Grant’s Hercules Beetle sighting with the award.

Letter 22 – Tiger Moth from Mexico: Isanthrene pyrocera

 

Subject:  Insect ID
Geographic location of the bug:  Mexico
Date: 11/20/2017
Time: 02:37 PM EDT
Hello, this insect is located in Mexico(it is November).  Is it a tarantula hawk?
Thanks.
How you want your letter signed:  Not sure

Tiger Moth:  Isanthrene pyrocera

This is a wasp mimicking Tiger Moth, and we believe it might be Leucotmemis guyanensis or a closely related species based on its similarity to this image posted to Bold Systems.  We will attempt to contact Arctiid expert Julian Donahue to ask his opinion.

Tiger Moth

Julian Donahue makes a correction.
Happy Thanksgiving, Daniel.
Our turkey is in the oven, with my signature Mexican stuffing, roasting in preparation for feeding 10 people tonight–with four of them having driven all the way from Albuquerque.
Your moth is Isanthrene pyrocera Hampson, 1898, described from Jalisco, Mexico.
Best wishes from the Sonoran Desert,
Julian

I appreciate you both taking the time to assist.
Have a great weekend.

Letter 23 – Tiger Moth

 

Subject:  Daughter caught a curiosity
Geographic location of the bug:  Lincoln City, Oregon
Date: 07/12/2019
Time: 10:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  So another submission… my daughter Chloe caught this fella in her camping catch kit… we’re super excited to hear back from ya buggy folks as we dunno what this battle scared fella (or gal as Chloe says) is
How you want your letter signed:  Joe and kitty bit

Tiger Moth

Dear Joe and kitty bit,
This is a wasp-mimic Tiger Moth in the genus
Ctenucha, probably Ctenucha multifaria based on this BugGuide image.

Letter 24 – Tiger Moth

 

Subject:  Which moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Siskiyou Co, far northern California
Date: 06/01/2021
Time: 04:20 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I saw this beauty on my porch the other evening. As it was very docile, I was able to get a great picture. The next morning, I thought I identified it from a great insect book, the Ornate Tiger Moth. But I’ve done some research, and wonder if it could be a Mexican Tiger Moth, as it’s lacking the narrow vertical stripes on it’s wings. But the Mexican Tiger Moth doesn’t live here. I found a map of historical sitings, and the closest one was well over a 100 miles south. It seems they live mostly south of San Francisco, and in the southwest. (I live in Siskiyou County, about 40 miles from the Oregon border.) So can you help me know which moth it is? It was so striking. Maybe climate change is bringing them further north? Thanks so much for such a wonderful webpage, I’ve visited it many times.
How you want your letter signed:  Salmon River Nature Lover

Ornate Tiger Moth

Dear Salmon River Nature Lover,
We agree that this is a Tiger Moth and we agree with your initial identification.  We believe based on BugGuide images that this is
Apantesis ornata, formerly Grammia ornata.

Thank you so much. And thanks for your fantastic site.

Letter 25 – Painted Tiger Moth

 

ID of Moth
Location:  Santa Margarita California
October 4, 2010 10:00 pm
I have taken some pictures of a most beautiful Moth only I can’t seem to find out what kind it is. If you could please take a look at the attached photos in an effort to ID this moth I would greatly appreciate it.
I really love this site for all it does…
Signature:  the bug man

Painted Tiger Moth

Dear the bug man,
This lovely moth is the Painted Tiger Moth,
Arachnis picta, a species reported on BugGuide only from California.  We have adults come to our porch light each year at our Mt Washington, Los Angeles offices, and often the females lay egg clusters on the walls near the front door.  The caterpillars are known as Woolly Bears and they are general feeders.

Painted Tiger Moth

Letter 26 – Painted Tiger Moth

 

Is it a sallow moth?
Location: Los Angeles, CA
November 12, 2010 6:50 pm
I saw this moth on the wall of the library a short while ago. It’s not green at all, but the markings looked similar to the sallow moth, but probably it’s not. Can you help me identify it?
By the way, thanks so much for WTB and The Curious World of Bugs. Each time I start reading the book or the site, I learn something new and amazing.
Signature: Z.

Painted Tiger Moth

Hi Z.,
This little beauty is known as a Painted Tiger Moth,
Arachnis picta, and it is a relatively common species in Southern California.  Each year in the late fall and early winter, numerous individuals are attracted to the porch light at our Mt Washington, Los Angeles offices.  We frequently see and photograph mating pairs and females laying eggs.  The eggs hatch in about 10 days and after a first meal of the egg shell, the minuscule caterpillars disperse, becoming general feeders of the Woolly Bear type.  We are happy to hear that you are enjoying and learning from both the website and Daniel’s book.

Thank you so much for replying me so soon.
All the best,
Z.

Letter 27 – Painted Tiger Moth

 

What kind of moth is this?? VERY PRETTY!
Location: Ramona, CA
October 21, 2011 4:10 pm
This moth got into my house a few nights ago(10/17/2011) in Ramona, CA. I came inside and found it on my lamp shade. Took a picture and let him go. Could you tell me what it is? I’ve been looking for something like it online and haven’t had any luck. It’s a very beautiful creature!
Thanks!
Signature: ~Mrs. D

Painted Tiger Moth

Dear Mrs. D,
Your moth is
Arachnis picta, commonly called a Painted Tiger Moth.

Letter 28 – Painted Tiger Moth visits offices of WTB?

 

Painted Tiger Moth
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
October 17, 2015
Each year we enjoy autumn visits from Painted Tiger Moths and two were attracted to the porch light last night.

Painted Tiger Moth
Painted Tiger Moth
Painted Tiger Moths
Painted Tiger Moths

Letter 29 – Painted Tiger Moths: And then there were 4

 

Subject:  Four Painted Tiger Moths at the Porch Light
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
October 18, 2015 8:00 PM
Just an update to the previous posting.  We believe the first Tiger Moth to arrive, the one on the lower left, is a female and we believe she released pheromones to attract a mate. Which will she choose??? In the past Painted Tiger Moths have laid eggs on the siding.  It seems we get several Painted Tiger Moths visiting each year, but we are still thrilled when we spot the first of the season.

4 Painted Tiger Moths
4 Painted Tiger Moths

Letter 30 – St. Lawrence Tiger Moth

 

what’s this moth?
Hi, I found your site useful, and already identified a Cerisy’s sphinx moth based on one of the photos someone else sent in. Can you tell me what this moth is? I photographed it in Chetwynd, British Columbia, in early Jun. It was just sitting on the sidewalk early in the morning.
Melanie

Hi Melanie,
Based on an image we found on BugGuide, we are relatively certain this is a St. Lawrence Tiger Moth, Platarctia parthenos. It is a new species for our website.

Letter 31 – Ranchman's Tiger Moth

 

What kind of Moth is this?
Hello,
I have looked through your archives and can’t find any pics of the moth my daughter hatched? Any ideas what it is? We have another due to hatch in a week or so. Thanks for your time,
Lisa Viola
from Creston, BC
Canada

Hi Lisa,
The reason you couldn’t locate this Ranchman’s Tiger Moth, Platyprepia virginalis, on our site is because your images are the first of this species we have received. The Ranchman’s Tiger Moths on BugGuide were found in Montana and Oregon.

Letter 32 – Sphinx Moth and Tiger Moth

 

moth ID
August 14, 2009
Mike again. I thought you’d like this pic. The larger moth is a sphinx, but what is her friend? They seemed to be a happy couple, but obviously of different species.
Mike
Edgewood, New Mexico, 7000′ pinion forest.

Five Spotted Hawkmoth and Nevada Tiger Moth, we believe
Five Spotted Hawkmoth and Nevada Tiger Moth, we believe

Hi Mike,
This photo of a Sphinx Moth and a Tiger Moth getting along is priceless.  The Tiger Moth is probably the Nevada Tiger Moth, Grammia nevadensis, and you may read about it on BugGuide.  Because of the angle of the photograph, the Sphinx may be difficult to get an exact ID from us and will probably require an expert, but it appears to be in the genus Manduca, probably the Five Spotted Hawkmoth, Manduca quinquemaculatus.  That may be researched on Bill Oehlke’s awesome website.

Yes, I positively ID’d the hawk moth as a five spot.  We have lot’s of them around here.
Mike

Letter 33 – Ranchman’s Tiger Moth

 

I have several photos
Location: Northern Idaho Panhandle
October 24, 2010 8:36 am
I am a hobby photographer, and I have several photos of creatures I am unable to identify.
I took this photo when I was living in Sandpoint, Idaho. It was sitting on a stack of firewood, but climbed onto my hand with no prompting.
Signature: Dee

Ranchman's Tiger Moth

Hi Dee,
We are so happy you have a lovely creature you would like identified as we have been fielding so many recent identification requests from folks who believe the Stink Bugs, Carpet Beetles and other creatures they have found in their homes might be Bed Bugs.  We identified your Ranchman’s Tiger Moth,
Platyprepia virginalis, by first going through the Arctiid Plates on the Moth PHotographers Group website.  Then we searched BugGuide where we found a nice posting that includes the eggs,  the caterpillars and the adults of this lovely allegedly diurnal Tiger Moth.  Your letter did not indicate the month of the year for the sighting.

I shot the photo in  mid-June of 2009, I was on Gold Cap Mountain, in Priest River, Idaho.

Letter 34 – Possibly Williams' Tiger Moth

 

Williams Tiger Moth?
Location: Roxborough, CO
July 16, 2011 8:02 pm
Hi WTB! You have many beautiful Tiger Moths on your website, but I didn’t see the Williams Tiger Moth – Grammia williamsii. My sister found this one on her porch today, in the prairie foothills southwest of Denver. At least I THINK it’s a Williams Tiger Moth… am I right? 🙂
Signature: Katie

Williams' Tiger Moth, we believe

Dear Katie,
The markings on your Tiger Moth look very similar to the markings on the photographs of the Williams’ Tiger Moth,
Grammia williamsii, that are posted on BugGuide, and BugGuide has data indicating that there have been sightings in Colorado, however, according to BugGuide, there are 38 species in the genus Grammia in North America as well as numerous subspecies.  Since many of the Tiger Moths in the genus Grammia look quite similar, this may be a near relative of the Williams’ Tiger Moth.

Letter 35 – Possibly Tri-Colored Tiger Moth from South Africa laying Eggs

 

Subject: African variation of a salt marsh moth?
Location: South Africa
October 16, 2013 12:37 pm
Hi mr bugman
I’ve been scouring your website and google looking for an identification of a moth i found on a wall of a house near Addo elephant park in south africa. It looks a lot like a salt marsh moth, yet is different.
http://www.africanmoths.com/pages/ARCTIIDAE/UNIDENTIFIED/9158.htm hasn’t managed to identify it, but its a exact match to my picture. hope you can help.
regards
Signature: Frank

Tiger Moth, we believe
Tri-Colored Tiger Moth, we believe

Dear Frank,
Your unidentified moth does resemble a Tiger Moth and it is laying eggs that are consistent with the manner of laying eggs incorporated by many Tiger Moths, including a Southern California species called the Painted Tiger Moth.  We will contact our friend Julian Donahue who is an expert on the former family, which has been demoted to a subfamily, to see if he can provide an identification.

On Oct 18, 2013, at 3:58 PM, Julian Donahue wrote:
Nope. Don’t have any good African references here at home.
Appears to be a Creatonotus or Estigmene, sensu Hampson. But without seeing the complete wing pattern, abdomen, and venation, I can’t go any further.
Sorry,
Julian

At least you agree it is a Tiger Moth.  That means I got the subfamily correct.
D.

Update:  December 29, 2013
Thanks to a comment, we are posting a link to a Tri-Colored Tiger Moth,
Rhodogastria amasis, from African Moths.

Letter 36 – Possibly Diurnal Tiger Moth from Panama

 

Subject: bee wasp or what?
Location: Chiriqui province Panama
November 15, 2013 5:04 am
Sorry for the quality of the photo but this guy was way up in a tree. He was a bright orange with blue lines along the wings. Had the general features of a wasp type bug.
Signature: Linda

Possibly Diurnal Arctiid Moth
Possibly Diurnal Arctiid Moth

Dear Linda,
We believe this might be a Diurnal Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae.  Many members of this group, especially those in the subtribe Euchromiina (see BugGuide), are diurnal and they mimic wasps.  As you indicated, the quality, and more importantly the size of your image, is not ideal for identification purposes.  We will contact our friend Julian Donahue who is an expert on Arctiids and who has spent much time in nearby Costa Rica, because he may be able to help with a more definite identification.

Possibly Diurnal Tiger Moth
Possibly Diurnal Tiger Moth

Thank you for your help. After looking at images of Arctiids on the internet I do see that it is what I have. I’ll keep trying to get a better photo. Hopefully he doesn’t spend all of his time way up in trees.
Linda

Julian Donahue provides and ID
November 18, 2013
Hi Daniel,
Yep, it’s an arctiid: Symphlebia hyalina (Rothschild), most likely subspecies amaculata (Rothschild), whose type locality is Colombia.
Julian

Ed. NOte:  See Bold Systems.

Letter 37 – Lesser Puss Moth from France

 

Subject: Moth ?
Location: Clisson, France
April 23, 2015 9:18 am
I spotted this beauty last summer, during Hellfest Open Air Festival (06 / 20-21-22 / 2014) in Clisson, France.
It landed on our tente on the first day, and almost not move for 3 days, despite the sun and the rain.
When we folded the tente, it flew away and landed on the top of a tree.
It was about 5-6 cm long, without antennae, it had hairy and soft paws.
I live in Nantes, near Clisson, and I’ve never seen that kind of bug before.
Does anyone ever seen the same beauty ? What is its species ?
Thank you so much for your help.
Signature: Fleur

Tiger Moth we believe
Lesser Puss Moth

Dear Fleur,
WE believe that this is a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, but we cannot be certain.  We have attempted to search the UK Moths site because we don’t know of a French resource, and we have not had any luck with the identification.

Update:  April 25, 2015
Thanks to a comment from Cesar Crash of Insetologia, we now know that this is Cerura ermine, a Prominent Moth in the family Notodontidae, and that it is called a Lesser Puss Moth according to the Lepidoptera Breeders Association.

Letter 38 – Probably Tiger Moth Eggs, hatching in Germany

 

Subject: caterpillars
Location: Marburg, Germany
October 16, 2016 1:24 am
Hi! I am living in central Europe (Germany), at the edge of a mixed forest. I have built up a container garden last year which attracts many different insects. In September this year I found many eggs fixed to a leaf of gladiola Acidanthera bicolor. Some time later very small caterpillars hatched which started to rope down on very thin threads. I could not find out what that is and wanted to ask for your help. Thank you very much.
Signature: Sabine

Probably Arctiid Eggs
Probably Tiger Moth Eggs

Dear Sabine,
We suspect that these are Tiger Moth Eggs from the subfamily Arctiinae.  We are reluctant to provide an actually species identification.  Many Tiger Moths are generalist feeders with caterpillars that eat plants often classified as weeds.  Tiger Moths also lay eggs on surfaces where there is no food, like the outdoor wall of a home near a light.  When the Caterpillars hatch, they begin feeding on the egg shell and then they disperse to hunt for edible plants.  Tiger Moth Caterpillars are often called Woolly Bears.

Hatchling Tiger Moth Eggs, we believe
Hatchling Tiger Moth Eggs, we believe

Letter 39 – Sycamore Tiger Moth

 

Subject: Stately moth
Location: Crawfordsville Indiana
July 14, 2017 10:14 am
This curious moth on my office door looks beige and drab at first glance, but sports a stately blue spot near its head on closer inspection. Can you help identify?
Signature: Ecuaprof

Sycamore Tussock Moth

Dear Ecuaprof,
This delicate beauty is a Sycamore Tussock Moth which we verified by comparing your image to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Overwinter as cocoons, adults emerge in May and June and lay eggs on the underside of leaves or bark of sycamore. Young larvae feed in groups, they scatter later.”

Letter 40 – Tiger Moth Cocoon we presume

 

What type of Butterfly or moth is this ?
Location:  Pacific NW
August 23, 2010 6:24 pm
My son found a caterpillar in our back yard, we let him put it in a jar with lots of leaves and the next day it was in a I guess cocoon. I remember it had a few furry spots on the back, I think it was orange & black and it had two horns.
If you have any idea please let me know.
Thanks, Corissa

Tiger Moth Cocoon

Hi Corissa,
This is definitely a moth cocoon.  WE believe this is a Tiger Moth Cocoon.  The construction incorporating the hairs of the Wooley Bear Caterpillars is consistent with the cocoon of a Tiger Moth.

Letter 41 – Tiger Moth Cocoon

 

Subject: Cocoon ID please
Location: Mill Bay BC
March 14, 2015 7:13 pm
HI There,
Please help me identify robust looking cocoon ( index finger for scale) that I found under one of my gardening trays . Mid March , location Vancouver Island off the west coast of British Columbia , Canada . I enjoy this page very much and am hosting several mason bees condominiums on our property , no bees= no food. Thanks in advance…
Signature: Mhairi

Cocoon of a Tiger Moth
Cocoon of a Tiger Moth

Dear Mhairi,
This is the cocoon of a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, but we cannot provide you with an actual species.  Caterpillars of Tiger Moths, commonly called Woolly Bears, incorporate shed hairs with silk when constructing cocoons.

Letter 42 – Tiger Moth Cocoon, we believe

 

Subject: Unknown egg pod.
Location: Shelby county alabama usa
March 18, 2017 7:26 am
Hello my name is Aaron. I found this particular pod on my porch about 2- 3 months ago. I think it may be of a preying Mantua. I am not sure and would like to know. If from bad bugs. Need info to relocate to wooded area
Signature: Thank you

Tiger Moth Cocoon, we believe

Dear Aaron,
We are pretty certain this is not an egg case.  It looks to us like a moth cocoon, possibly the cocoon of a Tiger Moth from the subfamily Arctiinae.  See this Isabella Tiger Moth Cocoon from BugGuide for comparison.

Authors

    by
  • 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.

  • 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.

23 thoughts on “How To Get Rid Of Woolly Bear Caterpillar? 5 Simple Techniques”

  1. I’d be more inclined to ID this as Estigmene acrea, based on looks and collection data on Bugguide.net for the time and location provided.

    Reply
  2. Hello there David, and thank you for your prompt reply.
    Yet I see you’re making a mistake with your first option, which may be due to some flikr pictures portraying this same moth, while giving it the wrong name. When I found them, too, to test the name I run a cross-search using Zeuzera Pyrina , and I found a totally different moth from the one I photographed! I suppose the mistake may be due to the fact this is a European/Northafrican Moth, not so known by anglosaxons 🙂
    In any case, yesterday I found the answer via the site of the Italian Entomologists. The right name is the one you mention, too,
    Cymbalophora pudica (Esper [1785]) – used to be classified as Arctiidae, now Aerebidae.
    I am glad we’ve found her name!
    Here’s the Italian site I’ve mentioned http://www.entomologiitaliani.net

    Kind regards,
    Rossana Piras

    Reply
  3. Hello there David, and thank you for your prompt reply.
    Yet I see you’re making a mistake with your first option, which may be due to some flikr pictures portraying this same moth, while giving it the wrong name. When I found them, too, to test the name I run a cross-search using Zeuzera Pyrina , and I found a totally different moth from the one I photographed! I suppose the mistake may be due to the fact this is a European/Northafrican Moth, not so known by anglosaxons 🙂
    In any case, yesterday I found the answer via the site of the Italian Entomologists. The right name is the one you mention, too,
    Cymbalophora pudica (Esper [1785]) – used to be classified as Arctiidae, now Aerebidae.
    I am glad we’ve found her name!
    Here’s the Italian site I’ve mentioned http://www.entomologiitaliani.net

    Kind regards,
    Rossana Piras

    Reply
  4. i wish that cocoon egg sac thingy was identified as I have just found that exact thing on a geranium leaf in my “Happy Hut” (my greenhouse -the infamous & no longer made “Thinking Outdoors” greenhouse which looks like a large shed made by Rubbermaid-, which is more of a grow room due to our using various lighting sources for both light & heat as we live in New Jersey, but I totally digress….) & came upon this site doing a Google image search. Another site had found something similar & let the eggs hatch & they turned out to be tiny wasps! YIKES!!! Kill it w/ fire; NOW! Soooo not a fan of wasps as I was once stung over 75x & spent a week in the hospital. I don’t know what a sawfly looks like so I’ll have to do some searching to see what they are. I do have an adult female & a young male Praying Mantis in my Happy Hut. The male was living on the plants I have in a large urn from my garden that I keep thriving until next Spring & I caught the female hanging out on the vinyl siding of our house on Halloween evening & brought her in to keep warm. She rewarded my kindness by laying an egg sac last Tuesday , 3 November, 2015. Besides them I know there are the menagerie of usual suspects from pill bugs & aphids, house & blue bottle flies, little golden moths & ants, the occasional carpenter bee & yellow jacket wasps find their way in too so the mantises can feed on them instead of each other but I don’t know where this wormy looking cocoon thingy chock full o’ teeny tiny eggs came from! I now see that someone else commented before me about the possibility of wasps & I’m not going to douse the thing with alcohol & set it on fire to ensure death!!! I’m sure wasps (& spiders too) serve some sort of good purpose but having dealt w/ those horrid things & enduring hellacious agony from their stings & venom; I’ll not risk it. Maybe I’ll first offer it to the mantises (if I can find either of them) to see if they’ll eat it but no matter what; I’m not going to allow the eggs to hatch. Yeccccccch!

    Reply
  5. By the way you described it I’m not so sure it was a wooly bear.they normally have one orange stripe across their back and the rest of them are black, they don’t have spots or horns. Not sure what it could be.

    Reply

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