Photo by Melody

Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae)

Order: Lepidoptera (le-pid-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Arctiidae (ark-TYE-ih-dee) (Info)
Genus: Lophocampa
Species: caryae


No positives
No neutrals
4 negatives


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Chester, Connecticut
Naugatuck, Connecticut
Arcadia, Florida
Hillsboro, Georgia
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Burlington, Maine
Oakland, Maryland
Adams, Massachusetts
Nantucket, Massachusetts
Craryville, New York
East Durham, New York
Nichols, New York
Barberton, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Arcadia, Oklahoma
Dilliner, Pennsylvania
Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Charlestown, Rhode Island
Burlington, Vermont
Blacksburg, Virginia
Chester, West Virginia

By DiOhio
Thumbnail #1 of Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) by DiOhio

By DiOhio

Thumbnail #2 of Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) by DiOhio

By ThomasGary

Thumbnail #3 of Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) by ThomasGary

By LadyAshleyR

Thumbnail #4 of Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) by LadyAshleyR

By LadyAshleyR

Thumbnail #5 of Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) by LadyAshleyR

By LadyAshleyR

Thumbnail #6 of Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) by LadyAshleyR

By mgarr

Thumbnail #7 of Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) by mgarr

There are a total of 14 photos.
Click here to view them all!

Member Notes:

Negative DiOhio On Jan 19, 2007, DiOhio from Corning, OH
(Zone 6a) wrote:

WARNING: Some people may be allergic to the hairs of this caterpillar. Be especially careful with children handling this caterpillar and then touching their eyes before washing hands.

Although I can hold this caterpillar and let him walk on me without having an allergic reaction, if any of the hairs become embedded it will hurt and burn and itch for over a week. I accidentally left my leather garden gloves sit on the front porch overnight and the next day when I put the gloves on I unknowingly squished one of these caterpillars that had gone into the glove for shelter. I was miserable for days.

Host plants include ashes, elms, hickories, maples, oaks, and walnuts, but will usually accept most any shrub or tree.

One generation.

Negative LadyAshleyR On Jan 26, 2009, LadyAshleyR from Oakland, MD wrote:

As DiOhio warned, whenever I come into contact with the caterpillar of this species, where-ever the hairs stick in my skin become itchy fluid filled bumps.
I found out the hard way when I was a kid not to touch them. I remember both of my hands being covered in little bumps, and them itching and burning so badly that i was scrapping them against the carpet trying to get rid of the sensation.

Negative nmmoritz On Sep 27, 2010, nmmoritz from Dilliner, PA wrote:

This caterpillar is one I would advise staying away from!
My 16 month old son found this out the hard way!
Although he has sensitive skin anyway, I too, broke out in an irritating rash after he had touched me after playing with this particular caterpillar.
It has been four days, and while my rash seems to have subsided, he is still miserable with his.
Not a caterpillar to play with!

Negative megan89 On Oct 7, 2013, megan89 from Madison, GA wrote:

As I had to find out the hard way, the Hickory Tussock caterpillar is "an extremely attractive species of caterpillar", it "is also one that is best avoided".

While my boyfriend and I were at his mom's house (in Hillsboro, GA) this past weekend, I was playing outside with his daughter and we found a very fuzzy, strange looking caterpillar on her playground. She wanted to keep it and watch it go through the butterfly stages and transformation. I got it on a stick, we found a container, put air holes in it, then put the caterpillar with the stick inside. As the day went on, we found about 5 more of these caterpillars, and put them in the container with more sticks and leaves. I thought for certain that I didn't touch any of the caterpillars, and I know my boyfriend's daughter didn't for sure. I'm hoping she didn't try to take them out of the container after we left Well, I must have come in contact with one of them, because I have 4 or 5, what I thought were mosquito or flea bites, along my chin, jaw, neck, and on my collar bone. It's actually a reaction to a chemical that this caterpillar secretes from its hair. ("Absorbing nasty chemicals for use as defences from the plants on which it feeds, these are secreted from the hairs on its body.") I had never seen this particular type of caterpillar before, so I did some research and got my answer - on the caterpillar and the random "bites" I had. I'm sure this has to be what it's from, because the "symptoms" that occur when these caterpillars come in contact with human skin are exactly how it feels. ("On contact with human skin, severe itching usually ensues, accompanied by very painful burning sensations. Itchy rashes can persist for several days and are thoroughly unpleasant.") I knew it had to be some sort of rash because the affected area was MUCH too swollen, extremely red, and painfully itchy, to just be an insect bite. Just wanted to share this with whomever may visit this page for information about this caterpillar. Hopefully it will get passed on and others will know not to handle, or to let children handle, these harmless-looking, but toxic caterpillars. (Turns out they don't even turn into butterflies. They turn into moths...)

*The information ("2 sentences in parentheses and quotation marks") in this paragraph were found at the website listed below:*

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