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  • Sycamore Tussock Moth - (Halysidota harrisii)

    Sycamore Tussock Moth - (Halysidota harrisii)

    The Sycamore Tussock Moth lives on and eats off of its namesake tree, sometimes to the point of destroying them.

    Picture of Sycamore Tussock Moth
    Staff Writer (7/20/2016): Sycamore Tussock Moths can be found on sycamore trees and London plane trees. Observers are more likely to find the caterpillars on the host trees. Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillars grow to be about 25-35mm long. They are covered in white hairs and have orange heads. Four orange tufts (pencils) of long bristles extend upward behind the head. Four more white tufts (pencils) of long bristles are next to them. Two white pencils of long hairs extend out by the rear end. Though they are not reported to sting, this caterpillar has caused irritation on human skin, so handling them is not advised. Use a stick or paper to remove them from areas where they are not wanted. There are two to three generations each year.

    Females lay fertilized eggs on the tree's bark or branches. The emerging caterpillars proceed to eat away at the leaves and soft plant tissue. In large numbers, annual substantial damage to the tree can kill it over time. After 30-40 days, the caterpillars form cocoons and will emerge as adults about two weeks later. An exception to that timeline is the generation of caterpillars pupating before winter comes. These caterpillars remain in their cocoons all season long, protecting them from the elements. They emerge as flying adults the next spring and will parent the first generation of that year.

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    Details of the:
    Sycamore Tussock Moth

    Category: Butterfly or Moth
    Common name: Sycamore Tussock Moth
    Scientific Name: Halysidota harrisii

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Lepidoptera
          Family: Arctiidae
           Genus: Halysidota
            Species: harrisii

    Size (Adult, Length): 25mm to 50mm (0.98in to 1.97in)

    Identifying Colors: ivory, yellow, black, brown, orange

    Additional Descriptors: spotted, flying, spiky, hairy, furry, striped, spotted, band

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Connecticut; Delaware; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Mississippi; Missouri; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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