Insects

Tussock Moths

Tussock Moths
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From one year to the next, tussock moth caterpillars may go from troublesome, to entirely absent, or vice versa. Both eastern and western species exist; all are colorful, l inch long caterpillars with long bristles, spots along the length of the body, and a quartet of tufts.

Target: Many fruit, nut, and ornamental trees.

Damage: Leaves are chewed from the treetop down, sometimes to such an extent that the tree is defoliated, fruit is scarred.

Life cycle: Wingless female moths emerge from cocoons in midsummer; they mate, lay hairy egg clusters on discarded cocoons in trees, and die. The eggs overwinter and hatch in spring. There are one to three generations each year.

Notes: Search deciduous plants for the hairy, light brown cocoons on which eggs are laid. The pest population seems to peak every 7 to 10 years.