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Spotted Tussock Moth (Lophocampa maculata)


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



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Image Credit: Joe C. from Whitehorse, YT
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Despite the name, this species is not a Tussock moth, but a Tiger moth, so that woolly caterpillar does not sting.



Updated: 03/04/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Tiger moths produce caterpillars that are densely covered in hairs and are commonly called woolly bear caterpillars. The Spotted Tussock Moth larva is a woolly bear caterpillar, but it also has black mounds and long white lashes more typically seen in Tussock moths. Tussock caterpillars can sting. This Tiger caterpillar does not. Though it has many appearances as it matures, the most popular stage has black hairs at the head and rear end are split by a yellow or red-orange band of hairs in the middle of the body. Black tussocks, or dome-like tufts of hairs develop along the 'spine', and it is why 'tussock' is used in the common name. The younger caterpillar is frosty white or a shade of yellow with long white lashes. Orange and black dots of color run down the back. Another variation is completely orange with a row of black tussocks on the 'spine'.

Moths are most active from spring through summer. These winged adults are brown with tan spots on the forewings. They are often seen in deciduous forests where trees like poplar and willow act as hosts for the growing caterpillars. They also feed on maple, oak, and basswood leaves. Look for them from mid-summer to autumn.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Lophocampa
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            Species: maculata
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Lophocampa maculata
Other Name(s): Yellow-spotted Tiger Moth; Mottled Tiger Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 28mm (0.78" to 1.10")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; tan
Descriptors: light spots; patches; pointy wings; brown marks; flying
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 20mm and 28mm
Lo: 20mm
Md: 24mm
Hi: 28mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Spotted 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 Spotted Tussock Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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