White-marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

I don't go around our yard and gardens just looking for weird things to photograph. Really, I don't. But it sure seems like I've been finding all kinds of strange and unusual characters around here lately.

Yesterday I found this odd looking caterpillar crawling across one of our compost bins...what a weirdo!

White-marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Definitely weird, but also a very cool looking little creature!

I was intrigued...

After a little research, I found out this is 'Orgyia leucostigma' or a White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar. The White-marked Tussock Moth is native to North America. It is found throughout the eastern US (about as far west as Texas) and it feeds on birch, cherry, apple, oak, and some coniferous trees. If found in large numbers, they can do quite a bit of damage to trees.

The White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar is about 1 1/4 inch long and has an orangey-red colored head and a black stripe running down it's body. It has four tufts of hairs along it's upper back and long "pencil hairs" extending forward on either side of it's head. White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillars also have one long tuft of lighter hairs extending from the end of their body and light sweeping hairs all around.

White-marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Apparently, contact with this caterpillar's "stinging hairs" can cause mild skin rashes on people with sensitive skin. But really, who in their right mind would ever touch this without gloves on? I mean, it just looks to me like something that would sting, or hurt in some weird way.

I certainly didn't touch it, but it's interesting to look at!

Oct 02 2013

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October 3, 2013

I love how much I learn on your blog ... even if I oft find myself trying to shake off the heebie-jeebies.


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