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Spotted Tussock Moth (Lophocampa maculate)

Spotted tussock moth of the Erebidae family has a wide range, indigenous to Canada, western United States, down south up to the Appalachians, and parts of Kentucky and South Carolina. Though belonging to the tiger moth tribe, it is commonly called tussock because of the hair tufts appearing on the caterpillar’s back. The spotted pattern seen on the adult moth’s wings earns them their name.

Spotted Tussock Moth

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Scientific Classification


  • Family: Erebidae
  • Genus: Lophocampa
  • Scientific Name: Lophocampa maculate

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

The caterpillar has a hairy appearance, with the larval stage divided into five instars. A completely matured larva has an orange or yellow coloration in the middle and black at both ends.  Some species may also have black spots marked against the orange or yellow body. They grow to a length of about 4 cm (1.57 inches) on average.

Though not harmful or a pest to the environment, the larvae could result in allergic reactions when touched as they have urticating hairs.

Spotted Tussock Moth Caterpillar

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Pupa

The pupa has a closely similar appearance to the adult, remaining encased within the cocoon.

Spotted Tussock Moth Cocoon

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Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent

Color and Appearance

Forewings: When opened, they are deep yellow, marked with yellow spots and four brown bands, which mostly appear merged. When closed, the color and pattern remain the same, with the spots not visible.

Hindwings: When opened, the hindwings are yellow and pale yellow without any spots. When closed, the hindwings are barely visible.

Average Wingspan: 3.5 – 4.5 cm

Flight Pattern: Consistent

Season: May – July

Lophocampa maculata

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Egg

The small, white eggs are primarily laid in amass and covered in brown hairs of the females that make it look like a pupal case.

Spotted Tussock Moth Eggs

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Quick Facts

Other Names Spotted halisidota, mottled tiger
DistributionDifferent parts of North America, extending up to southern  Canada, and far across western and southeastern United States,  covering portions of Kentucky, and South Carolina
HabitatDeciduous forests
PredatorsNot recorded
Lifespan of AdultsNot recorded
Host PlantsBirch, oak, maple, willow, poplar
Adult DietNectar of host plants

Did You Know

  • American botanist and entomologist described the spotted tussock moth in 1841.
  • These moths have three subspecies: Lophocampa maculata maculate, Lophocampa maculata agassizii, and Lophocampa maculata texana.
Spotted Tussock Moth Picture

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Spotted Tussock Moth Image

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