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Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Banded Tussock Moth



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The furry tufts, or tussocks, of the subdued Banded Tussock Moth add a delightful spark of color to its otherwise brown body.



Updated: 08/12/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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. This species looks identical to the Sycamore Tussock Moth of the same genus and only an anatomical inspection can really differentiate the two. Because it is impossible to check this via a photograph, on this website, the photos attributed to this moth are also shown for the Sycamore Tussock Moth. 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. Though many people safely handle this caterpillar, some people with sensitive skin may react to contact with it.

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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Halysidota
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            Species: tessellaris
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Halysidota tessellaris
Other Name(s): Pale Tiger Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 23mm to 47mm (0.90" to 1.85")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, white, yellow, black, blue
Descriptors: hairy; sensitive; allergic; flying; wavy; lined
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 23mm (0.9in) and 47mm (1.9in)
Lo: 23mm
Md: 35mm
Hi: 47mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Banded Tussock Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Banded Tussock Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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