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Rusty Tussock Moth (Orgyia antiqua)

The rusty tussock moth is an Erebidae moth. Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus first described this species in 1758.

Rusty Tussock Moth

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Scientific Classification


  • Family: Erebidae
  • Genus: Orgyia
  • Scientific Name: Orgyia antiqua

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

The color of the larva’s body ranges from a dark gray to black, with red tubercles visible on its back and sides. Their most recognizable feature is their setae, which are projected in the form of horn-like tufts. There are four of them shaped like toothbrushes along the back, while the entire body is covered with hair pencils on all sides. These setae also absorb toxins from the caterpillar’s defensive glands acting as a form of defense. However, they are not poisonous, at worst leaving behind an itchy rash.

Larvae reach up to lengths of 40mm, with the females being considerably larger.

Rusty Tussock Moth Caterpillar

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Pupa

The glossy black hairy pupa can be found inside a silk cocoon in crevices of places like fences or the bark of certain trees.

Orgyia Antiqua Pupa

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Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present.

The female is completely flightless, remaining attached to her cocoon throughout her life, while the males are capable of flight.

Color and Appearance

Forewing: When open, they are red-brown with a large white spot shaped like a comma in the post-median area. The spot remains visible when the wings are closed.

Hindwing: When open, the color of these wings ranges from red-orange to orange-brown. When closed, the patterns are no longer visible.

Average wingspan: 35-38 mm

Flight pattern: Zigzagged, sometimes even high up from the ground while tracking females with the help of her pheromones.

Season: Late Summer to Fall

Vapourer Moth

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Egg

Gray-yellow in color, the females lay the eggs on her cocoon after mating.

Rusty Tussock Moth Eggs

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Quick Facts

Other NamesVapourer Moth
DistributionNative: Europe Invasive: North America, parts of Africa and Asia
HabitatFens, gardens, heaths, hedgerows, moors,  open woodlands, and parks.
Lifespan of AdultsMales: A few days Females: Around 1 week
Host PlantsSeveral different trees and shrubs, including birch, hawthorn, lime, oak, pinwheel, Sitka spruce, and willow
Adult DietDoes not feed

Did You Know

  • It is sometimes confused with the Scarce Vapourer moth, however, the latter is rarer than the Rusty Tussock moth.
Orgyia antiqua

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Rusty Tussock Moth Picture

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Rusty Tussock Moth Image

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