Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Subject: Caterpillar at Torrance Beach
Location: Torrance Beach, Torrance, CA
April 6, 2015 7:05 am
Hello Bugman,
A few days ago, my kid found this caterpillar crawling on Torrance Beach. He knows about this page and has not stopped asking me to please post a picture of the caterpillar here so we can get help identifying it. The caterpillar was about 1″ long.
Signature: Daniel

Tussock Moth Caterpillar
Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Dear Daniel,
This is a Tussock Moth Caterpillar in the genus
Orgyia, most likely a Western Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Orgyia vetusta, which according to BugGuide is found in Southern California, though several other species in the genus have similar looking caterpillars and they are also found in California.  We are curious what caused this individual to be found on the sand, probably far from a food source, and we are guessing some beach patron inadvertently packed it with the beach umbrella or some other gear kept in the yard by a tree that served as a food source.

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