The Q&A Archives: Tuscan Moth

Question: Help!!! We are being invaded by a catapillar. It is all over my apple trees, rose bushes and other trees. It's about an inch long and many colors, black yellow etc. Someone said it was the result of the Tuscan Moth. I've never seen it before but it is eating it's way through my gardens. What can I do about it and how long is the life cycle? In fact I'll take any information about it you have.

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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