PEST PROFILES: MOTH AND BUTTERFLY CATERPILLARS
Isabella tiger moth
Click on image to view larger. Saltmarsh Caterpillar
The saltmarsh caterpillar, grows to 2 inches, has short bristles and longer, whitish hairs covering its yellow to dark brown body. Adult moths (2 inch wingspan) are white, with the forewings having some small black spots and the abdomen yellow with black spots. The woolybear caterpillar, caterpillars grow to 2. 1/4 inches, and are red-brown with black at both ends of the spine-covered body. The adult stage, called the Isabella tiger moth, has a 2 inch wingspan, and is overall yellow-brown with the abdomen marked with black spots.
Caterpillars feed on leaves and may cause a problem when occurring in high numbers on landscape plants or crops. Contact with their hairy bodies can cause irritation to the skin. Moths are common at lights.
Both species overwinter as larvae. Caterpillars of the woolybear caterpillars in the fall are thought to indicate the severity of the oncoming winter by the proportion of red-brown to black on the body, although this is good folk lore, there is apparently no scientific evidence supporting this idea. Adults occur in the spring.