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Species Datana major - Azalea Caterpillar Moth - Hodges#7905

Azalea Caterpillar - Datana major Caterpillar - Datana major Azalea Caterpillar Moth - Datana major Mystery Black, White & Red caterpillar - Datana major Caterpillar ID - Datana major Datana major? - Datana major Azalea-Eating Catapillar - Datana major Hodges #7905 - Datana major? - Datana major
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Notodontidae (Prominent Moths)
Subfamily Phalerinae
Genus Datana
Species major (Azalea Caterpillar Moth - Hodges#7905)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Major Datana (adult)
Azalea Caterpillar (larva)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Datana major Grote & Robinson, 1866
Phylogenetic sequence #930036
locally common
wingspan 40-50 mm
larva to 50 mm
Adult: forewing orangish-brown, darker brown toward costa (not tawny to reddish-brown, as in Drexel's Datana); hindwing solid orangish-brown
[adapted from description by Charles Covell]

D. major is not safely separable from D. drexelii except by examination of the male valves (Hugh McGuinness, pers. comm.) Both species have brown forewings, usually with orange shading along the costa. The reniform and orbicular spots are usually distinct, often quite bold. D. major averages larger and redder than D. drexelii.

Larva: first instars are yellow with seven red longitudinal stripes and a black head. As the larva matures it becomes highly colored. Mature larvae are predominately black with a red last segment and eight broken yellow (occasionally white) lengthwise stripes. The head and legs are bright red.
[adapted from description by G.W. Dekle and Thomas Fasulo, U. of Florida]
southeastern United States from Maryland to Florida, west to Arkansas and Kansas
bogs and swamps
adults fly from June to August
larvae present July to October
larvae feed mainly on leaves of azalea (Rhododendron spp.) but have also been recorded on apple, blueberry, Red Oak, and Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifoloa)
Life Cycle
female lays masses of 80-100 eggs on underside of leaf in late spring or early summer; first instar larvae feed gregariously, skeletonizing leaves of hostplant; older larvae eat entire leaves; usually one generation per year, with partial second generation in the south; overwinters as a pupa in a cell in the soil
Covell's Guide indicates a range of "Nova Scotia to Florida..." but Datana major is not listed at Moths of Canada, and the U. of Florida reference below gives Maryland as the northern limit of distribution.
Hugh McGuinness has indicated that the character of the non-wavy outer margin, cited in Covell, is not consistent in museum specimens which have had their species identity confirmed.
Internet References
Moth Photographers Group – images of live and pinned adults
BOLD Systems - images of pinned DNA supported specimens
Florida Featured Creatures – detailed description
live larva image (James Adams, Dalton State College, Georgia)
common name reference [Major Datana] (Great Smoky Mountains National Park Lepidoptera Checklist)