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Walnut Caterpillar Moth (Datana intergerrima)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Walnut Caterpillar Moth.

 Updated: 1/9/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The timing for Walnut Caterpillar Moth reproduction affords some protection for popular nut trees.



Walnut Caterpillar Moths are a rich brown color with 3 pale lines crossing the wings. When viewed from above, the pale lines's curves resemble ripples. Hindwings are rounded and ivory in color. The furry thorax has a dark, reddish brown crown. The puffy nature of the thorax almost overtakes the head like a giant collar. The moth is on the wing from April through autumn.

The caterpillar for this species gets more attention than the adult. The black caterpillar has a black head and is covered in long, wispy, white hairs. Depending on its maturity, thin white lines may run down the length of the body, which can also appear maroon or red. They are often seen on tree branches in large congregations, crawling over each other and surrounded by caterpillar silk. The overall appearance may take the shape of a white, fuzzy ball. The web-like silk ball and clustering behavior resembles the kind seen in webworms, but that is a different kind of caterpillar. Walnut Caterpillars do not sting and do not bite. They may wiggle with their heads raised in an attempt to scare off a predator, but they lack an irritating defense typically seen in many other hairy caterpillars.

Bare patches in a leafy tree are signs of caterpillar feeding. As the name suggests, Walnut Caterpillars eat the leaves of walnut trees. They also eat from pecan, butternut, and hickory trees. While many caterpillars on one tree can defoliate it at an alarming rate, they usually feast in autumn, when trees are fortunately in the stages of storing energy and not making it through their leaves. This means that the impact of the feeding is less harmful, especially for nut production, than if this species were to start feeding in early spring. In warmer parts of its range, three broods can be produced in one year. The earlier in the season the caterpillars feed, the more harmful it is to the tree's health and ability to produce nuts. Parasitic insects and predators naturally control the caterpillar, but insecticide use and manual removal of caterpillars also reduces the likelihood of annual outbreaks.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Notodontidae
          Genus: Datana
            Species: intergerrima
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Datana intergerrima
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 21mm to 28mm (0.82in to 1.09in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; tan; white; ivory
Descriptors: white stripes; dark brown head; flat head; flying
Territorial Map
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Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
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
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American butterfly and moth insect
1
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
3
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
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Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
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Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
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Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.