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Nevada Buck Moth (Hemileuca nevadensis)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Nevada Buck Moth

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Image Credit: Colin D. from Steinbach, Manitoba.
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Image Credit: Colin D. from Steinbach, Manitoba.
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Image Credit: Colin D. from Steinbach, Manitoba.
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The bright moth has an equally bright caterpillar capable of stinging with its short, bristly hairs.

Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Orange on the face and the tip of the abdomen provide a bold contrast color to the black and white wings of the Nevada Buck Moth. This western species has a conspicuous yellow-green mark shaped like a comma in the center of each wing. The white band crossing the wings may be wide or narrow, so the yellow-green marks may sit on or near a black part of the wing. A hairy thorax gives the moth a soft, touchable look, but its caterpillar is quite the opposite.

The body of the caterpillar may be white, black, or yellow. Mottled lines of black run the length of the caterpillar. Clusters of short, spiky hairs erupt from the top and sides of the body. These branching hairs may be a combination of black, white, and yellow, but all of them induce a very painful sting if the caterpillar is touched, so contact should be avoided. The head is a deep red color that is matched by the legs. Groups of them may share the same branch on an alder or willow tree, which are food sources for them. They crawl over each other, making them look like a prickly moving mass. Their feeding activity is not known to cause serious harm to the tree.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Insect stinger icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Saturniidae
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          Genus: Hemileuca
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            Species: nevadensis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Hemileuca nevadensis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 50mm to 75mm (1.96" to 2.95")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; white; orange; yellow
Descriptors: fluffy; hairy; comma marks; orange tip; orange face; flying; stinging caterpillar

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 50mm (2.0in) and 75mm (3.0in)
Lo: 50mm
Md: 62.5mm
Hi: 75mm
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
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Nevada Buck 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 Nevada Buck Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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