Cute Little Caterpillar

Spotted Tussock Moth (Lophocampa maculata)

While out walking the trails at Audubon, I found this critter munching away on an Alder.

Cute Little Caterpillar

I wasn’t sure I had the ID right when I looked it up in our Caterpillars of Eastern North America by David L. Wagner (a wonderful guide, by the way). The picture in the book shows front and back with much more black – much like a Wooly Bear.

So I googled up some more images and found some at the Duke University website that look more like mine. (You’ll have to scroll down on their page to find this species. Click –> here.)

According to Wagner, this little critter will overwinter in the pupa stage and eventually turn into a moth.

9 thoughts on “Cute Little Caterpillar

  1. I believe your caterpillar is Lophocampa maculata, larva of the Spotted Tussock Moth. Its favorite foods are alder and willow, but it also enjoys just about any other woody species. Do you have David L. Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America? You can find a photo of this caterpillar on page 473 of that wonderful book.

  2. Caterpillars are sometimes hard because they do vary. I don’t know why but I have seen many (30 or 40) hickory tussock moth caterpillars this year. I use that reference too. Like the photo!

  3. Hello! I love moth and caterpillar ID, and I live in CT where David Wagner is. His guide is great, the only issue is that caterpillars change so dramatically as they progress through each instar. They can become a completely different set of colors! So, the photo in the Wagner book may be one stage, but your caterpillar another. It makes the ID more troublesome. A great web resource is BUG GUIDE, which I use quite a bit. Tiger moths are particularly prone to big color changes. We need many more moth and caterpillar guides in North America. The United Kingdom is WAY ahead of us on this one-they have oodles. So there is a new project for you. Thank you for a well-written and informative blog. I have you bookmarked and will check back. Diane Tucker, Estate Naturalist, Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT

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