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Spiny Oakworm Moth (Anisota stigma)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Spiny Oakworm Moth



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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Oranges, brown, and purples - a collection of autumn's favorite colors - converge on the wings of the Spiny Oakworm Moth.



Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Spiny Oakworm Moths are a rusty brown color that can appear more orange in some individuals. The two-toned wings are orange-brown on the top half, and are separated by a deep purple line from the more pink-purple color on the bottom. The furry head and thorax are orange-brown as is the short-haired abdomen. Light purple-pink patches on the 'shoulders' are bordered with a dark purple line. A bright white dot sits near the center of each forewing. Black freckles cover most of the forewings and the lower edge of the hindwings.

The caterpillar's body is brown and it has an orange-brown head. This worm-like larva is spiny, as its name suggests. Two black spines, or curved spikes, protrude from either side of a black line that runs down the back. There are exceptionally long spines near the head. The entire body is covered in white dots. Spiny Oakworms are voracious eaters of many types of oak tree leaves, often seen feasting in groups during their early life. One cluster can actually defoliate an entire young oak. They spend late summer feeding into mid-autumn, eventually becoming more solitary, and then move underground by winter to pupate. Mature oak trees can tolerate the aggressive feeding, but years of defoliation forces the use of stored energy and slows tree growth. The insect emerges as a winged adult in summer the next year.




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


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Saturniidae
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          Genus: Anisota
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            Species: stigma
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Anisota stigma
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 22mm to 38mm (0.86" to 1.49")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange, purple, pink, brown, yellow, white, black
Descriptors: black specks, hairy, flying
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 22mm (0.9in) and 38mm (1.5in)
Lo: 22mm
Md: 30mm
Hi: 38mm
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 Spiny 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 Spiny Oakworm Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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