white-marked tussock moth

(Orgyia leucostigma)

white-marked tussock moth
Photo by Laura Baxley
  Hodges #

8316

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

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.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: to (15 to 22 mm)

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

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Fields, woodlands, and forests

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

One generation in the north: Late August to early October

 
     
 

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.

Caterpillars have 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.

 
     
 

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.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Leaves of deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Adults do not feed

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

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

 
  7/5/2019      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Very common

 
         
 
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  
 

Genus

Orgyia  
       
 

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)  
     

 

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  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Created: 7/6/2019

Last Updated:

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