Spotted Tussock Moth Caterpillar

2015 December 16

Sam and I found this rather striking woolly caterpillar on one of the alders out back on September 10, 2015.

Being so woolly, it is pretty clearly a caterpillar of one of the Tiger Moths.

In fact, it is so very woolly that I’m not 100% certain which end is which [1]. I think that this is its head end,

and this is its rear end.

That bright yellow middle with black ends, and long white whiskers at both ends, is pretty distinctive. This looks to be a caterpillar of the Spotted Tussock Moth, Lophocampa maculata. When I saw that name, I thought “that sounds familiar”, and searched this site to see if it had appeared previously As it turns out, I photographed the adult some time ago, way back in 2007 (and posted it in April 2009). And here it is:

These are really widespread moths, particularly in the north and west, and their caterpillars eat the leaves of a lot of different deciduous trees. They are supposed to be partial to poplar and willow, but also eat alder (like this one was), basswood, birch, maple, and oak.

[1] Which reminds me of this limerick Rosie just showed me in one of her schoolbooks:

“A puppy whose hair was so flowing,
there really was no means of knowing
which end was its head,
once stopped me and said,
‘Please sir, am I coming, or going?'”

One Response
  1. Jessika permalink
    September 23, 2018

    Just found a spotted tussock moth caterpillar on my back porch, actually it was my dogs that found it.
    I haven’t ever seen one way out here…St. Philip’s Newfoundland, Canada.
    I’m curious if it’s just me that hasn’t been lucky enough to’ve seen the wonderful fuzz ball? Or are these not normally found here?
    It’s the 23rd of September and we’ve been hovering a few degrees above freezing, so I’m again surprised to’ve found it?
    Maybe someone else can fill in the blanks for me…

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