Tussock moth caterpillars

posted in: Butterflies and Moths, Fauna, Videography | 12

Tussock moth

“On separate occasions, Maryann Vitudio and Amber Lau brought me caterpillars of the Tussock moth (F: Lymantriidae) to observe. These are rather common. The problem was that the food plants False Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) and an unknown were in short supply. As an alternative I fed the caterpillars with Nam Nam (Cynometra cauliflora) leaves that were acceptable to a certain extent.

“These caterpillars are somewhat colourful with characteristic tufts of hair that is reputed to cause irritations when handled (top). As the caterpillars I received were relatively large, they were invariably at the final instar stage. And as with most pre-pupa caterpillars, they continuously moved around, thus needing to be confined (above, below).

“After some time, the caterpillar laid a mat of silk on the leaves (below),

…gathering a few together to form a cocoon of discarded hairs within (below).

Tussock Moth-cocoon 120216
“The adult moth is generally dull brown or white. They survive for a few days, mating and laying eggs but do not feed. Unfortunate I lost my pupating specimen and am unable to show an image of the moth.”

YC Wee
18th February 2016


12 Responses

  1. Adrian Chan

    Caught one specimen similar to the one above last month. It fed on the Money plant (Pachira aquatica). Unfortunately it was attacked by parasitic wasps and it succumbed. The strange thing is that the caterpillar did not show any symptoms that it was parasitized. It was feeding normally and eventually pupated by spinning the cocoon.It was only shortly after that where I noticed maggots emerging from its body. More and more maggots oozed out of its body and they also spun their cocoons. It died as prepupa failing to undergo the full metamorphosis. Sadly…

  2. Quite common in this moth. We will be posting an account as mentioned by you. In addition, we have a video of wasps emerging from the cocooned maggots outside the infected pupa.

    • Adrian Chan

      Yeah! Saw the video, quite similar to what I had experienced. May I know what is the scientific name of the moth?

      I also read that the females of this species are wingless.

  3. Unable to ID the moth as the pupae were parasitised by wasps. Have yet to see an adult tussock moth.

  4. I had found these on plants I bought from a nursery. They love the leaves of the hibiscus & another plant I don’t know the name of. Cute to watch so long as the plant it’s feeding on is for ‘sacrifice’.

  5. I realise the tussock moth caterpillar lays eggs before it metamorphosizes. Why donu say that they lay eggs after mating as an adult?

  6. Adrian Chan

    Update : Well its been 2 years since I last commented on tussock moths. In this update I caught the same specimen as the ill fated one which was attacked by parasites 2 years ago. This time around the metamorphosis was complete. The moth successfully eclosed.

    However, I still could not ascertained the exact species of the moth. I believe it belongs to the genus Oygvia in the family Lymantriidae ( now classified as subfamily Lymantriinae of the family Erebidae)

    Due to the polyphagous nature of its caterpillar, this time around I found it feeding on the Bird’s nest fern ( Asplenium nidus).

    I have a photo of the adult moth though it it is not possible for me to post it here, anyway… no big deal…its just a drabby looking small moth.

  7. Thanks for the update, Adrian.

  8. Lots of Tussock caterpillars at Raffles Hospital, level 8, outdoor garden with water feature.

  9. Sarah Beattie

    I have three of these on my balcony – for some reason preferring the wall to the plant which I assume they hatched from.


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