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Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Lophocampa caryae


Lophocampa caryae, the hickory tussock moth or hickory halisidota, is a moth in the family Arctiidae. Like most species in its family, the caterpillars acquire chemical defenses from their host plants. The behaviour and aposematic coloration of the larvae also suggests chemical protection in this stage, although they have not been analyzed for alkaloid or cardenolide content.


Life cycle There is one generation per year. Larva The larva, a caterpillar, is completely covered in long, hairlike setae arranged in spreading tufts. Most are white, but there are black tufts along the middle of the back, and four long black hair pencils, two near the front, and two near the back. These hairs cause itchy rashes in some people. They are microscopically barbed and may cause serious medical complications if they are transferred from the hands to the eyes. There are black spots along the sides, and the head capsule is black. The later-instar caterpillars are seen between July to September. They feed in groups of about 100 or so in the early instars, skeletonizing leaves. Older larvae are solitary. They grow up to 4.5 centimeters long before pupating. Pupa The cocoon is loose and has setae woven into it. It overwinters in the leaf litter. Adult The adult moth flies in May and June. The forewings are yellowish-brown marked with white splotches, reminiscent of stained glass. The hindwings are mostly white. The body is hairy and pale brown. The moth primarily feeds on hickory, pecan and walnuts, but will also eat ash, elm, oak, willow, and other plants. It occasionally causes local defoliation of nut trees, but high densities do not last long enough to cause significant damage.

1 species ID suggestions

stho002 5 years ago
Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar
Lophocampa caryae Species Lophocampa caryae - Hickory Tussock Moth - Hodges#8211 - BugGuide.Net

1 Comment

EmilyUmbarger 5 years ago

Perfect! Thanks for the id help!

Michigan, USA

Lat: 42.28, Long: -84.41

Spotted on Aug 25, 2013
Submitted on Aug 26, 2013


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Lophocampa Lophocampa pupa Lophocampa sp. Caterpillar Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar

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