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Southern Tussock Moth (Dasychira meridionalis)


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



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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Hanie C. from Chocowinity, NC
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Adult Southern Tussock Moths can be difficult to distinguish from other Tussocks, but their caterpillars can be differentiated in a quick glance.



Updated: 07/24/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Southern Tussock Moths are found in the southeastern United States. They are a mix of earthy brown shades with possible green and purple tones. The overall pattern consistently shows a middle band of color on the wings that has light patches near the wings' edges. Two small tufts on the body could be mistaken for smaller insects. There is enough variation within the species to make identification a challenge. This is a nocturnal moth, but sometimes it is seen during daylight. Very furry legs are usually outstretched in front, and males have feathery antennae.

Caterpillars are easier to identify. They are black and white. Small round reddish-orange mites may hitch a ride on the back, looking like little dots of color which can confuse the identification process. White hairy caterpillars have long black, hairy antennae and a large black spot halfway down the body. Black and white lashes on both sides of the body stretch forward at an angle. The rear has a thinner, longer black spot with black hairs reaching backward on both sides. Their silk is tough to break, requiring some force to remove if found on buildings or branches.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Dasychira
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            Species: meridionalis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Dasychira meridionalis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 26mm (0.78" to 1.02")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white, black, gray, orange, brown
Descriptors: hairy, furry, legs, feathery, antennae, mottled, flying, spiky
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 20mm and 26mm
Lo: 20mm
Md: 23mm
Hi: 26mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Southern 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 Southern Tussock Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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