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Red-humped Oakworm Moth (Symmerista canicosta)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Red-humped Oakworm Moth

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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The shape of the white side bars is not always enough to know a Red-humped Oakworm Moth from its kin.

Updated: 07/09/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
There is difficulty in identifying adult moths in this genus. They all have a lovely white flourish on the outer edges of the forewings. This particular species is found on the eastern side of the continent, which helps reduce the number of possible Symmerista moths it could be. The White-headed Prominent and Orange-humped Mapleworm are similar in appearance and in range, so dissection is necessary to truly tell them apart. The gray-brown moth has a deeper brown area by the wing edges where white sides jut into the middle of the wing, ending in a sharp point. The hairy thorax has shades of orange and golden brown on it.

The caterpillar for this moth is called the Red-humped Oakworm. It feeds on the leaves of oak trees as well as beech and chestnut. It is identical to the White-headed Prominent Moth's caterpillar and they share territory in warmer states. The round head is bright orange-red with a bumpy orange or yellow-orange band near the rear end. The body has black, white, and yellow lines running down the length of it, with the yellow lines being twice as thick as the others. Hints of red may fill in the yellow lines. Larvae are often found together on a leaves. Two broods are possible each year, especially in the southern part of its range.

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


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Notodontidae
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          Genus: Symmerista
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            Species: canicosta
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Symmerista canicosta
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 22mm (0.70" to 0.86")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; white; orange
Descriptors: white curves; light interior; flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 18mm (0.7in) and 22mm (0.9in)
Lo: 18mm
Md: 20mm
Hi: 22mm
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 Red-humped Oakworm 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 Red-humped Oakworm Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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