Photo by Melody

Azalea caterpillar moth (Datana major)

Order: Lepidoptera (le-pid-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Notodontidae
Genus: Datana (da-TAY-na) (Info)
Species: major (MAY-jor) (Info)


No positives
2 neutrals
4 negatives


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Bronson, Florida
Deland, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Mulberry, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Covington, Louisiana
Ponchatoula, Louisiana
Prairieville, Louisiana
Slidell, Louisiana
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina

By lwhalliday
Thumbnail #1 of Azalea caterpillar moth (Datana major) by lwhalliday

By lwhalliday

Thumbnail #2 of Azalea caterpillar moth (Datana major) by lwhalliday

By Nella571

Thumbnail #3 of Azalea caterpillar moth (Datana major) by Nella571

By Butterflylady72

Thumbnail #4 of Azalea caterpillar moth (Datana major) by Butterflylady72

Member Notes:

Neutral lwhalliday On Sep 9, 2006, lwhalliday from Pittsboro, NC
(Zone 7a) wrote:

For more information, see:

Negative sallyg On Oct 13, 2006, sallyg from Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b) wrote:

My sister just told me she has a huge infestation of these in the Pensacola Florida area. She's never seen them before, and guessing that they blew in from Katrina.

Negative greenthumbnails On Jul 11, 2008, greenthumbnails from Kissimmee, FL
(Zone 9b) wrote:

Bad bug to have in your garden. We had an infestation a few years back and they completely defoliated my azelea bushes. The parent moth is a tan color. We sprayed heavily with some ortho insect product since then and hand picked any larvae with tweezers and drowned them in a mixture of water and bleach/or vinegar (don't remember which). Have not had much of a problem since then.

Negative Emma75 On Jul 5, 2009, Emma75 from DeLand, FL
(Zone 9b) wrote:

They decimate my azaleas every year, and seem to always arrive with the Fourth of July fireworks displays! If something beautiful were fluttering around my garden after the fact, I'd not be so irritated by the event!

Neutral jksprize On Nov 11, 2009, jksprize from Sarasota, FL wrote:

Not sure these are all the same bug.

Negative Nella571 On Jun 30, 2010, Nella571 from Marrero, LA wrote:

The larvae of this moth showed up on my friend's blueberry bushes this year. I go every year to pick and I noticed a couple of moths but, this year there were lots of caterpillars. My friend said he had already removed plenty of them the previous week. I've never really noticed the caterpillars or lots of moths in previous years and I have been at all stages of the blueberry season. Before I came upon the caterpillars, I made the comment to my friend that something was feeding on the blueberry bush this year. A few minutes later, I found my answer. These are interesting, but pretty destructive little fellas, as they skeletonize the leaves. They are pretty easy to identify and have yellow (or white) and black lengthwise stripes with red head and legs. The colors become more vibrant as the caterpillar matures, so they can look somewhat different during certain stages. They go into a characteristic "C-shaped" arch when disturbed. This can be seen in some of the pictures that have been posted by members.

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