Orgyia leucostigma – White-marked Tussock Moth

I found this caterpillar on June 15, 2009, eating Wild Black Cherry leaves (Prunus serotina).

Orgyia leucostigma

Another view from June 20th – showing the bright red head that’s characteristic of this species

Orgyia leucostigma larva

On July 1st, it pupated.  It covered the pupa with a layer of silk, and mixed some black hairs in with the white silk.

Orgyia leucostigma pupa

On July 7th an adult male moth emerged.

Orgyia leucostigma adult male

When I released it, it flew around just above the stones of the driveway, beating its wings frantically.  I finally got one photo when it stopped for just a moment.

Orgyia leucostigma adult male

According to BugGuide,  females of this species have no wings, and lay their eggs in a frothy mass on top of their own cocoons.  I hope the next caterpillar I raise will turn out to be a female!

Marcie O’Connor

Buffalo County, Wisconsin