WALNUT CATERPILLAR MOTH

Datana integerrima
PROMINENT MOTHS (Notodontidae)

Description
The Walnut Caterpillar Moth has a wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches (3.5-5.5 cm). The forewing is tawny brown with dark brown almost parallel lines narrowly edged with pale yellow. The outer margin is not scalloped. The hindwing is a light tan. The newly emerged caterpillar is green and turns to reddish brown as it grows older and is covered with silky, whitish hairs. The head is black in all stages. The larva grows to about 1.75 inches (4.5 cm).

Occurrence
The frequency of occurrence is not known. It has been photographed at Fontenelle Nature Center in late July 2014.

Comments
The larva eats the leaves of butternut, hickory, pecan and walnut (all Juglandaceae). Egg clusters with as many as hundreds of eggs are laid on the trunks of trees in rafts. The caterpillars are gregarious like other Datana species. When fully grown the larvae fall to the ground and burrow into the soil to pupate. The pupa overwinters and the adult emerges the following spring.

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