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Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae)

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


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Chester, Connecticut
Naugatuck, Connecticut
Arcadia, Florida
Hillsboro, Georgia
Clay City, Indiana
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
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Aug 21, 2016, Catperkins from Clay City, IN wrote:

Found one of these on my neck after going out to feed my animals. Felt something prickly on my neck and brushed it off. Within 24 hours my neck is covered in a bad rash that itches tremendously bad!!! Located in Clay City, Indiana. I'm so glad I was smart enough to pick it up with a paper towel to throw it outside!!!


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 ... read more


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!


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.


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.