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Image Credit: Arch Baker
The furry tufts, or tussocks, of the subdued Banded Tussock Moth add a delightful spark of color to its otherwise brown body.
The adult Banded Tussock Moth has turquoise, white, and yellow stripes running down its thorax (shoulder area). Two shades of light brown bands cross the wings, alternating down the length of them. Legs are thin and yellow. This species looks identical to the Sycamore Tussock Moth of the same genus and only an anatomical inspection can really differentiate the two. Because it is impossible to check this via a photograph, on this website, the photos attributed to this moth are also shown for the Sycamore Tussock Moth. Adults drink the liquids of decaying plants that are rich in alkaloid compounds. They then retain this chemical internally, making them unpleasant to eat. Such a reputation likely helps reduce the threat of predators. Their caterpillars may also benefit from this chemical protection. Though many people safely handle this caterpillar, some people with sensitive skin may react to contact with it.
Banded Tussock Moth caterpillars are covered in long yellow hairs. At the head are a pair of extra long black bristles, like eyelashes, and two sets of white bristles. The rear also has a pair of long black lashes. They feed off the foliage of oak, alder, birch, willow, elm and ash trees. Perhaps because of its varied diet and arrival later in the season, Banded Tussock Moth larvae do not tend to damage their host plants.
Look for them in deciduous forests that have any of the tree species the caterpillar eats from, or even woodlands that have a mix of trees. Adults are on the wing from late spring into the fall.
Scientific Name: Halysidota tessellaris
Other Name(s): Pale Tiger Moth
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 23mm to 47mm (0.90in to 1.83in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.