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Banded Woollybear Caterpillar Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella)


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



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The incredibly bristly Banded Woollybear Caterpillar is a bit slow on the move, allowing observers plenty of time to look, but be sure not touch.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Banded Woollybear Caterpillar Moth gets its descriptive name from the appearance of the caterpillar, not the adult moth. The moth may be mustard yellow, orange, or rosy on its forewings with a few black dots on each. Shades and hues vary per individual with males showing an orange tint while females are more rosy. The hindwings are pink with gray dots on them and they are only visible when the wings are spread open and flat. Adults can be found in pastures, meadows, fields, and at the sides of roads and highways.

Its caterpillar form is hairy and black at both ends with a red band in at the waist. It is covered entirely in stiff hairs. Banded Woollybear caterpillars do not bite and lack stingers, but the hairs can easily break off into skin when touched, which will cause pain and irritation. It used to be believed that the amount of black coloration foretold how bitter the winter would be, but it seems more related to the caterpillar's maturity, not the weather forecast. The caterpillar feeds on many kinds of low-growing plants, but is not considered a pest either on the farm or in the garden. It is not uncommon to see them on sidewalks, curbs, roads and other people areas in the autumn.




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




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Pyrrharctia
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            Species: isabella
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Pyrrharctia isabella
Other Name(s): Isabella Tiger Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 40mm to 50mm (1.57" to 1.96")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow, brown, black, pink, red
Descriptors: hairy, bristly, spiky, flying, banded

Banded-Woolly-Bear-Caterpillar-Moth Video(s)




A Woolly Bear walking across the road.
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 40mm (1.6in) and 50mm (2.0in)
Lo: 40mm
Md: 45mm
Hi: 50mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
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State of Delware graphic
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State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
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State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
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State of Tennessee graphic
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State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
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State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
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 Woollybear Caterpillar 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 Woollybear Caterpillar Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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