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White-marked Tussock Moth : Nature Closeups

White-marked Tussock Moth

June 30th, 2010 - 10:20 PM | Filed under Featured Creatures | No comments

I often encounter the easily recognized White-marked Tussock moth, Orgyia leucostigma. I found this one feeding on maple at the end of May in my front yard.

May 31, 2010 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA | ~30mm

I grabbed it for some closeup shots and to attempt to rear it.

Tussocks

Head

Defensive glands

It must have been a final instar, because it pupated just five days later. It spun the cocoon at the top of a container, but I carefully removed it to take some photos.

Cocoon | June 6, 2010 | ~40mm

A flightless female emerged ten days later.

It's a female! | June 16, 2010 | ~15mm

Portrait

Females cling to the cocoon until mated. That night, I carefully pinned the cocoon with her on it to a post on my deck. When I checked an hour later, mating was already in progress. The male that found her was rough looking, having lost many wing scales.

Mating

Portrait

The next morning I checked on the cocoon. As expected, the female had laid an egg mass. I assume she fell to the ground as she was nowhere to be found.

Froth-covered egg mass | ~17mm

Surface of egg mass

The eggs overwinter, and I’m holding on to them. Hopeful I’ll get some photos of the early instars sometime next year.

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