white-marked tussock moth

(Orgyia leucostigma)

               
Hodges #

8316

white-marked tussock moth
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Very common

Flight/Season

One generation in the north: Late August to early October

Habitat

Fields, woodlands, and forests

Size

Total Length: to (15 to 22 mm)

Wingspan (male): 1 to 1 (25 to 35 mm)

   
    Photo by Laura Baxley
 
Identification

White-marked tussock moth is a small, short-lived, late-season moth. It is common in the United States east of the Great Plains and in adjacent Canadian provinces. Sightings in the west and in Mexico are few and scattered. Adults emerge in late August to early October. They are to (15 to 22 mm) long with a wingspan of 1 to 1 (25 to 35 mm). They have vestigial mouthparts and do not feed. They live just a few weeks and are gone by mid-October.

The female is grayish-white to light brown and ½ to 9 16 long (12 to 14 mm). It does not have wings.

The forewing of the male is dark grayish-brown with a thin, sharply defined, dark line that separates the basal and median areas (antemedial or AM line) and another that separates the median and post-medial areas (postmedial or PM line). These lines are often edged with wide brown bands. There is a bold white crescent on the subterminal line near the inner margin. The hindwing is dark brown. The antennae are plumose and conspicuous.

The caterpillar is distinctively marked and easy to recognize. The head is bright red. The abdomen has a broad black stripe in the middle (middorsal) flanked a broad bright yellow stripe on each side (subdorsal). There is a tuft of erect, white, gray, or yellowish hairs on each of the first through fourth abdominal segments (A1–A4). Segments A6 and A7 each have a small, bright red gland on top. Mature caterpillars are about 1 (35 mm) long.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Larval Food

Leaves of deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs

 
Adult Food

Adults do not feed

 
Life Cycle

Mating occurs on the top of the empty cocoon from which the female emerged. She lays a mass of up to 300 eggs right there, usually on the cocoon, covers them with froth, and soon dies. The eggs overwinter and hatch in the spring.

 
Behavior

Caterpillars disperse by ballooning. The spin a long thread of silk and let go of the plant they are on, letting the wind or breeze carry them to a new location. Most do not survive the process, succumbing to predators or to starvation when they land on a site that is inhospitable. Early stage (instar) larvae eat soft leaf tissue. Later stage caterpillars eat everything on the leaf but the main veins.

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 71, 75.

 
Comments

Do Not Touch!
Caterpillar has two bright red glands on the abdomen and have been observed drawing their long hairs (setae) over the glands. The glands may produce a poison to deter predators. Whether that is true or not, it is known that contact with the setae to sensitive skin, as on a person’s back, stomach, or inner arm, can cause an allergic reaction.

 
Taxonomy

Order:

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)

 

Suborder:

Glossata

 

Infraorder:

Neolepidoptera

 

Parvorder:

Heteroneura

 

No Rank:

Ditrysia

 

No Rank:

Obtectomera

 

Superfamily:

Noctuoidea (noctuid moths)

 

Family:

Erebidae

 

Subfamily:

Lymantriinae (tussock moths)

 

Tribe:

Orgyiini

 
Subordinate Taxa

white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma intermedia)

white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma leucostigma)

white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma oslari)

white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma plagiata)

white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma sablensis)

 
Synonyms

Hemerocampa leucostigma

 
Common
Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Laura Baxley
       
  white-marked tussock moth   white-marked tussock moth
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  White-marked Tussock Moth - Hodges#8316 (Orgyia leucostigma)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  White-marked Tussock Moth - Hodges#8316 (Orgyia leucostigma)  
     
  White-marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma)
Bill Keim
 
  White-marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma)  

 

slideshow

       
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Leah Starks
       
  white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma)
Published on Jul 5, 2019
 
   
 
About

seen in early July at Red Oak Park in Burnsville, MN

   
       
       
Other Videos
 
  Orgyia leucostigma 06-21-18
wapogipofrog88
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 16, 2018

   
       
  White-marked Tussock Moth Orgyia leucostigma
Roy R
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 8, 2018

Family: Erebidae

Subfamily: Lymantriinae

Identification: Similar to Orgyia definita. Females of these species can only be distinguished by identifying associated males. Wings usually grayer in male of this species median area usually paler. Blackish patch near apex smaller, with no light streaks below it. White spot accents lower st. line, as in male Orgyia definita.

Wing Span: 2.5-3.5 cm (male). Female lacks wings.

Life History: Sometimes a pest on Christmas tree plantations northward in its range.

Flight: June-November (2 broods usually June-August and August-November). One brood (August-October) in far northeastern range.

Caterpillar Hosts: Over 140 known hosts, including alder, apple, balsam fir, birches, and larch.

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
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Laura Baxley
7/13/2019

Location: Minneapolis

white-marked tussock moth


     
     
 
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Created: 7/6/2019

Last Updated:

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