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Sycamore Tussock Moth (Halysidota harrisii)

Sycamore Tussock Moth
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Sycamore tussock moth of the Erebidae family is indigenous to northeastern Mexico, eastern United States, and southeastern Canada. As its name suggests, the larva mainly feeds on sycamore trees, also causing damage to the plants.

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Erebidae
  • Genus: Halysidota
  • Scientific Name: Halysidota harrisii

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar
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They have an orange head and yellowish body with a dense covering of hair. In the front part of the larva’s body lie orange and white hair pencils in pairs of two. Two white hair pencils are also seen behind their body.

Though not poisonous, the hair on the larva’s body could cause itchy rashes to humans if touched with bare hands. It is always advisable to remove them using a paper or stick while removing them from unwanted areas.

As per documentation, the larva of this species can cause hives.

Pupa

Sycamore Tussock Moth Cocoon
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The cocoons within which the pupa remains encased are hairy resembling a ball, hung near barks, or even kept in areas close to debris. The pupation phase commences from September and October.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent

 Color and Appearance: When opened, the wings have a pale yellowish-brown coloration with tan and brown bands running alternately across the forewings. When closed, the pattern and color remain the same.

Halysidota harrisii
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They even have a hairy thorax bordered in lines of yellow, white, and blue intersecting the center.

Average Wingspan: 5 cm (forewings 2.5 – 3.5 cm long)

Flight Pattern: Consistent

Season: July – September

Egg

The eggs are laid in large masses near the branches or barks of the host plants.

Quick Facts

Quick Facts

DistributionSoutheastern Canada, northeastern Mexico, eastern United States
HabitatForests, and every other place where their host plant grow
PredatorsBirds, bats
Lifespan of AdultsNot recorded
Host PlantsSycamore
Adult DietNectar of host plants

Did You Know

  • American entomologist Benjamin Dann Walsh described this moth species for the first time in 1864.
Sycamore Tussock Moth Image
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Sycamore Tussock Moth Photo
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Sycamore Tussock Moth Picture
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