Caterpillars mistaken for Lymantria moth caterpillars
Several types of caterpillars are commonly mistaken for gypsy moth caterpillars. Use these checklists and images for identification.
On this page:
- Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly
- Silver-spotted tiger moth
- Tussock Moth
- Tent caterpillar (Western and Northern)
- Winter moth
Some rare and endangered butterfly caterpillars resemble gypsy moth caterpillars. However, to preserve butterfly populations, butterfly caterpillars should not be disturbed. If you have found a caterpillar and are uncertain of its species, leave it be.
Taylor checkerspot butterfly caterpillars:
- Are black and hairy
- Have a single row of yellow dots on their backs
- Feed on plants within Garry oak meadows, but not on the trees
- Are currently found only in a few locations on Denman Island and Buckley Bay
Note the black tufts of hair on the Taylor's checkerspot caterpillar, and the single row of reddish-orange dots.
Silver-spotted tiger moth caterpillars
- Are large
- Actively feed between the early spring and early June
- Primarily feed on conifers (evergreens)
- Do not have any spots
- Have yellow hairs
- Produce dense webs on trees
- Often feed in groups
Note the yellowish tufts on the silver-spotted tiger moth caterpillars. Also, they do not have distinctive, coloured dots.
Tussock moth caterpillars
- Are hairy, with pencil-like tufts on the head and tail and "tussocks", or bunches of hairs, on the back
- Feed on Douglas-fir (Douglas-fir tussock moth) or both hardwood and evergreen trees (rusty tussock moth)
- Produce webbing, but not tents, on the trees they feed on
Note the two long tufts on the Douglas-fir tussock moth caterpillar's head, and the long bundles of hair on the body.
- Usually feed in large groups
- Build large white tents of webbing
- Feed on the leaves of trees like Garry oak and alder, and fruit trees and ornamental shrubs
- Have short hairs on their bodies
- Have blue, orange or red spots
Note the masses of tent caterpillars gathered on a tent of webbing. Note also the shorter hairs on the body, and the white and yellow markings on the back.
Winter moth caterpillars:
- Are hairless and green
- Are found hiding within rolled leaves
- Feed on large, leafy trees like maple, oak and alder, and on fruit trees and ornamental shrubs
- Suspend themselves from a single strand of webbing
Note that the winter moth is green and hairless.