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Yellow-necked Caterpillar Moth (Datana ministra)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Yellow-necked Caterpillar Moth

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The pesky yellow and black caterpillar of this moth has a reputation for overeating in orchards.

Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Adult Yellow-necked Caterpillar Moths do not have yellow necks, but their offspring do. The moth is a light brown color with thin, dark brown lines crossing its wings. A dark, furry thorax is covered in dense hairs that could be dark brown or a shade of maroon. It blends in well among the deciduous trees in its woodland habitat.

Caterpillars are black with yellow lines from head to rear. A black head has a bright yellow collar around its 'neck'. The legs are yellow or orange with black and yellow feet. The entire caterpillar is covered in both short and long, thin white hairs. They feed on the leaves of apple, oak, willow, and birch trees to the point of becoming pests. After they are finished with a leaf, only its stalk is left behind. One or two broods can be produced each year. Look for them posing in a back bend where the head and rear end lift off the branch and come close to touching.

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

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Notodontidae
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          Genus: Datana
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            Species: ministra
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Datana ministra
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 53mm (0.78" to 2.08")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; red
Descriptors: brown lines; red hair; furry head; flying

Yellow-Necked-Caterpillar-Moth Video(s)

A Yellow-necked Caterpillar struggles to get a footing on loose soil.
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 53mm (2.1in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 36.5mm
Hi: 53mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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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 Yellow-necked Caterpillar 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 Yellow-necked Caterpillar Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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