Fabulous Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar Eggs
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The shape of the eggs and the quantity leads us to believe these are moth eggs.
Milkweed tussock moth caterpillar eggs. Egg clusters at other times are laid without a scale covering. Females lay fertilized eggs in clusters on milkweed leaves. The adult milkweed tussock moth has dull gray wings l and a yellow orange abdomen marked with black dots lc and rc. Adult milkweed tussock moths emerge in early summer to mate and lay eggs.
Adult moths mate and lay eggs in the summer months and caterpillars hatch from those eggs in the late summer and early fall. The tiny caterpillars feed for a short while most often on poplar aspen cottonwood and willow trees before they retreat inside bark crevices and spin a web for hibernation. Adults are rather non descript with gray wings and hairy yellow orange abdomens. They are omnivorous focused mainly on milkweed but will also eat eggs and small caterpillars leave them if you have enough milkweed to sustain them.
Knowing that species diversity is an essential part of a healthy ecosystem there is no harm in leaving milkweed tussock caterpillars alone to eat a few milkweed plants. Milkweed tussock moth caterpillars feed together in large groups in the early instars. Their egg clusters are often mistaken for spider egg sacs. They feed as a crowd at this growth stage.
The kiddies hatch out and begin eating the tissue off the bottom of the leaves. Kiddies are off white and look slightly bristly or spikey with black shiny head capsules. As caterpillars progress through their instars colorful changes take over. Newly hatched caterpillars begin as yellowish tubes with tiny black heads and are covered in white wispy hairs.
Biophotonics has a photo of milkweed tiger moth caterpillars euchaetes egle that is attributed to kailen mooney of the university of california irvine however to the best of our knowledge the milkweed tiger moth is an eastern species. Perhaps even more handsome is the fluffy milkweed tussock moth caterpillar eucaetes egle. Euchaetes egle the milkweed tiger moth or milkweed tussock moth is a moth in the family erebidae and the tribe arctiini the tiger moths the species was first described by dru drury in 1773. The female lays masses of white eggs on the underside of leaves r.
Like so many other insects that use milkweed as their primary food this creature expresses the cardiac glycosides found in the latex of the milkweed plants with orange and black coloring. It is a common mid through late summer feeder on milkweeds and dogbane like most species in this family it has chemical defenses it acquires from its host plants in this case cardiac glycosides. Older caterpillars may separate a bit from each other on the plant. Caterpillars are gregarious staying closely together as they eat.
They are harmless and part of a healthy local ecosystem keep in mind any substance left on milkweed to repel pests will also prevent monarchs from using those plants.
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