Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Banded Woollybear Caterpillar Moth - (Pyrrharctia isabella)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 10/20/2014

The incredibly bristly Banded Woollybear Caterpillar is somewhat slow-moving, giving observers plenty of time to look, but be sure not touch.

The Banded Woollybear Caterpillar Moth gets its descriptive name from the appearance of the caterpillar, not the adult moth. The moth has a mustard-yellow coloring on its forewings with a few black dots on each. The hindwings are pink with gray dots on them and are only visible when the wings are spread open and flat. They can be found in pastures, meadows, fields and at the sides of roads.

Its famous caterpillar is black at both ends with a red band in at the waist. It is covered entirely in bristles. It used to be believed that the amount of black coloration forecasted how bitter the winter would be, but it is actually related to the caterpillar's maturity, not the weather. The hairy little caterpillar feeds on many kinds of low-growing plants, but is not a pest on the farm or in the garden. It is not uncommon to see them on sidewalks, curbs, roads and other people areas in the autumn.

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Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common name: Banded Woollybear Caterpillar Moth
Scientific Name: Pyrrharctia isabella
Other Names: Isabella Tiger Moth

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Lepidoptera
      Family: Arctiidae
       Genus: Pyrrharctia
        Species: isabella

Adult Size (Length): 40mm to 50mm (1.57in to 1.97in)

Identifying Colors: yellow, brown, black, pink, red

Additional Descriptors: hairy, bristly, spiky, flying

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.