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Species Orgyia leucostigma - White-marked Tussock Moth - Hodges#8316

caterpillar - Orgyia leucostigma White-marked Tussock Moth - Orgyia leucostigma White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar - Orgyia leucostigma Tussock Cat - Orgyia leucostigma caterpillar 3 - Orgyia leucostigma Hornbeam Caterpillar - Orgyia leucostigma Caterpillar in red dragon japanese maple - Orgyia leucostigma Can anyone ID the caterpillar? - Orgyia leucostigma
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 Erebidae
Subfamily Lymantriinae (Tussock Moths)
Tribe Orgyiini
Genus Orgyia
Species leucostigma (White-marked Tussock Moth - Hodges#8316)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Rusty Vapor Moth
Chenille à houppes blanches - En français… Ilze V-G.
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Orgyia leucostigma J. E. Smith 1797. Synonyms:
Hemerocampa leucostigma
Explanation of Names
leuco=white and stigma= mark or spot (Greek). Presumably refers to the white spots on the male forewings.
Adult: Adult females, which are pale grey, are wingless and therefore flightless.

Males are medium brown moths with a distinctive darker pattern and a single white spot on each forewing.

Larva: Caterpillars are recognized by the bright red head and broad black stripe along the back flanked by a yellow stripe each side. Two red glands on sixth and seventh abdominal segments, and four tufts of hairs (which may be white, gray or yellowish) on the first four abdominal segments are common to several members of the genus. CAUTION: Contact with hairs may cause an allergic reaction.

Very common and widespread in wooded areas of the Eastern US. Southern Canada to FL and TX.
This species is univoltine on Block Island, RI, flying mainly July to early August, but with a partial second generation in September and October.(1)
Caterpillars feed on a wide range of hardwood trees and conifers. Wagner(2) lists "apple, birch, black locust, cherry, elm, hackberry, hickory, oak, rose, willow...fir, hemlock, larch, spruce and other conifers."
Life Cycle
Flightless females lay a froth-covered mass of up to 300 eggs after mating. Images of all stages in the life cycle may be found on this (3)
CAUTION: Avoid handling the caterpillar, as its hair is known to cause allergic reactions, especially in areas of the body with sensitive skin (e.g. back, stomach, inner arms). Seek medical treatment if a severe reaction occurs.
Telenomus dalmani and T. hemerocampae are parasitcs of this moth.(4)
See Also
Orgyia detrita caterpillar is similar in coloration but "the sides of the body are gray and supraspiracular warts are orange; the black middorsal stripe is flanked by yellow spots on A4-A7" - Wagner, p.450 (2).
Print References
Caterpillars of Eastern North America (2)
Internet References
Moth Photographers Group – species page (5)
BOLD Systems - images of DNA supported specimens (6)
Wikipedia - brief description (3)
Stinging Caterpillars - University of Kentucky.
The Life of North American Insects - B. Jaeger, 1859, pg. 168 - Online book. Common name Rusty Vapor Moth.
Works Cited
1.Block Island Moths
2.Caterpillars of Eastern North America
David L. Wagner. 2005. Princeton University Press.
4.Eastern Forest Insects
Whiteford L. Baker. 1972. U.S. Department of Agriculture · Forest Service.
5.North American Moth Photographers Group
6.BOLD: The Barcode of Life Data Systems