Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Banded Tussock Moth.
Updated: 6/19/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.
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.