The bright and highly patterned caterpillar of this somewhat plain, brown moth gets all the attention.
The Red-humped Caterpillar Moth is light brown with reddish color on the inner middle part of the forewings. A profusely hairy thorax seems neatly cropped once it reaches the wings, allow the auburn part of the wings to easily show. A single black dot and a black dash at the 'shoulder' are really the only other useful markers for identifying it.
The caterpillar, however, has a bright red head and a similar-sized red hump on the upper part of its back. The body is black with thin yellow and white stripes. Thicker orange stripes may have formed on the sides of the body with broken black lines in it. Small black spikes stick out of the body around each segment, and each one may have a bristled hair sticking out from its tip. The rear end raises up in a defensive position if it feels threatened.
This caterpillar is easy to recognize, which is convenient because it is a pest on many types of orchard and nut trees. Leaves are eaten almost completely, leaving only its veins behind on twigs and branches. Young trees and those standing alone in a park or yard can be completely defoliated by the feeding habit of this larva. Pear, apple, peach, almond, apricot, plum, and cherry trees are suitable host plants. Other deciduous trees like willow, cottonwood, birch, and redbuds are also used. In small numbers, healthy and mature trees recover. Fruit and nuts remain on the tree unharmed by the insect, but might suffer from increased sun exposure once the shade of leaves have been eaten away. Cutting off branches that contain feeding caterpillars and destroying them can help reduce their impact. Allowing parasitic wasps and other natural predators to thrive also helps control the number of caterpillars. Using chemical insecticides against this caterpillar might also hurt friendly pollinator species, so natural methods to contain and control populations is more common.
Scientific Name: Schizura concinna
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 17mm to 21mm (0.66in to 0.82in)
Colors: brown; red
Descriptors: brown; auburn; red; hairy thorax; flying; brown dots at bottom of wings
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.