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Brown-tail moth

caterpillars white female moths

Brown-tail moth (Nygmia phaeorrhoea), member of the family of tussock moths (Liparidae, which also includes the gypsy moth), native to the northeastern United States, whose caterpillar is a serious pest to fruit and shade trees. The hairs of the caterpillars and female moths can be irritating to human skin. The moth is white with a brown abdomen, and a wingspan of about 1.5 in (3.8 cm). The female lays about 300 eggs, which hatch into hairy brown caterpillars with orange, white, or other markings. All summer the caterpillars eat leaves, spinning silk tents to winter over and emerging in spring to continue eating. Grown caterpillars spin cocoons and pupate, maturing by July.

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