Adult Southern Tussock Moths can be difficult to distinguish from other Tussocks, but their caterpillars can be differentiated in a quick glance.
Southern Tussock Moths are found in the southeastern United States. They are a mix of earthy brown shades and a dizzying pattern that requires some studying before identification can be certain. They are nocturnal, but sometimes are seen during daylight. Very furry legs are usually outstretched in front, and males have feathery antennae.
Caterpillars are easier to identify. They are black and white. Small round reddish-orange mites may hitch a ride on the back, looking like little dots of color which can confuse the identification process. White hairy caterpillars have long black, hairy antennae and a large black spot halfway down the body. Black and white lashes on both sides of the body stretch forward at an angle. The rear has a thinner, longer black spot with black hairs reaching backward on both sides. Their silk is tough to break, requiring some force to remove if found on buildings or branches.
Scientific Name: Dasychira meridionalis
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 26mm (0.78in to 1.01in)
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.