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Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Banded Tussock Moth, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 2/5/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Banded Tussock Moth  
Picture of Banded-Tussock-Moth
Picture of Banded-Tussock-Moth Picture of Banded-Tussock-MothPicture of Banded-Tussock-MothPicture of Banded-Tussock-MothPicture of Banded-Tussock-MothPicture of Banded-Tussock-Moth

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. 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.

Picture of the Banded Tussock Moth
Picture of the Banded Tussock Moth

Banded Tussock Moth Information

Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common Name: Banded Tussock Moth
Scientific Name: Halysidota tessellaris
Other Name(s): Pale Tiger Moth

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Lepidoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Erebidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Halysidota
       Arrow graphic Species: tessellaris

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 23 mm to 47 mm (0.897 inches to 1.833 inches)
Identifying Colors: brown, white, yellow, black, blue
Additional Descriptors: hairy, stinging, flying, wavy, lined

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska;New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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