White-marked Tussock Caterpillar

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Orgyia leucostigma, the White-marked tussock moth, is a moth in the family Lymantriidae. The caterpillar is very common especially in late summer in eastern North America, as far west as Texas, Colorado, and Alberta. There are two or more generations a year in eastern North America (Wagner 2005). They overwinter in the egg stage. Eggs are laid in a single mass over the cocoon of the female, and covered in a froth (Wagner 2005). Up to 300 eggs are laid at a time. he larvae are brightly coloured, with tufts of hair-like setae. The head is bright red, the body has yellow or white stripes, with a black stripe along the middle of the back. There are bright red defensive glands on the hind end of the back. Four white toothbrush-like tufts stand out from the back, and there is a grey-brown hair pencil at the hind end. Touching the hairs will set off an allergic reaction in many humans (Wagner 2005). Young larvae skeletonize the surface of the leaf, while older larvae eat everything except the larger veins (Rose and Lindquist, 1982). They grow to about 35 mm.


Edward Howe Forbush Useful Birds and Their Protection (Boston, MA: Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, 1907)


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