Caterpillars in Your Yard and Garden
Pale tussock moth caterpillars (Halysidota tessellaris) are present from early summer to fall. They produce two generations per year.
Full-grown caterpillars are about 1.5 inches long. Each body segment is densely covered with tubercles bearing tufts of short or long hairs (pencils) that are white, silver-gray or black. From the second thoracic segment there arises a pair of long black pencils and shorter white pencils that point forward, and from the third thoracic segment arises a pair of black and white pencils that usually point away from the body axis at right angles. At the rear of the body, two black pencils point backward. On top of the abdominal segments is a longitudinal row of dark gray tufts. Host plants include oak, willow, poplar, hickory, grape and hackberry. The adult is referred to as the banded tussock moth.
About the family
Tiger moth caterpillars of the Arctiidae family, often called woollybears, are covered entirely with dense clusters of tubercles from which arise short tufts of hairs or long hair “pencils” of varying colors. The hairs on these caterpillars can be irritating when handled by individuals with sensitive skin.