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White Furcula (Furcula borealis)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the White Furcula



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Image Credit: Amy M. from Clemmons, NC
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Image Credit: Amy M. from Clemmons, NC
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The White Furcula caterpillar is not at all white and it sports an unusually long forked tail that doubles its length.



Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Furculas are a type of nocturnal moth with a lovely mop of hair by the head and 'shoulders'. The furry crest has ribbons of metallic blue and dark yellow color in it. The White Furcula is not completely white, but those parts that are have a clean, snowy brightness. A dark gray, almost salt-and-pepper colored band crosses the middle of the wings, with smaller corners of dark color by the tips. A border of the same metallic blue and yellow separate the dark from the light regions. The white areas have a line of black dots that follow their curvy boundaries, and a row of these black dots hug the bottom edges of the wings. Black legs are loaded with long, white tufts of hair.

The caterpillar of the White Furcula is yellow or green with a dark brown diamond at the center of its body. This brown color also covers the head and runs in a line down through a long, thin, forked tail. Furcula actually means 'forked' and this tail is about half as long as the caterpillar itself, and may be sticking straight up in the air or stretched behind the rear, extending the overall length of the larva. The segments behind the head may be swollen and come to points on either side, or they may be rounded, depending on maturity. The function of its coloring and pattern is to mimic the leaves, both alive and dried up, that it feeds on.

Look for adults and caterpillars on cherry trees, but also on willow and poplar trees. Two broods are produced each year and adults can be seen from spring through the end of summer.




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: Notodontidae
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          Genus: Furcula
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            Species: borealis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Furcula borealis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 42mm (1.18" to 1.65")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white, black, gray, orange, blue
Descriptors: metallic, shiny, patches, salt-and-pepper, grey, furry, flying, black dots
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 30mm (1.2in) and 42mm (1.7in)
Lo: 30mm
Md: 36mm
Hi: 42mm
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 White Furcula 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 White Furcula. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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