Answer: You probably have larva of the Tussock Moth (Lymantriidae family) The adult moth has a wingspan of about 1 1/4" and is gray-brown. The caterpillars are 1 1/4" long with a bright red head, pale brown body with yellow and black stripes, and pencils of black hair and white tufts on the abdomen. The caterpillars eats foliage of a great variety of shrubs and trees. The female moth dies soon after laying eggs. The eggs hatch, the caterpillars feed, then pupate in a cocoon until they emerge as adults. There are two or more generations per year.
The caterpillars can be controlled by hand picking and destroying or by using the botanical insecticide Bt. (Bacillus thuringiensis) Bt is a stomach poison so expect additional feeding until the caterpillars have ingested a lethal dose.
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