Weirdest Moth You'll See All Day
PidderPeets

Weirdest Moth You'll See All Day

This is a moth. It is not a pupa, it is not deformed. It is a healthy adult female white marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma). As adults, only the males develop wings. I found her as a 2nd instar caterpillar a few weeks back, and raised her up to adulthood. And now I have a tiny white cheesepuff
@Greasylake The females of many moths don't actually fly that much. Many of them don't stray far from where they eclosed and simply release pheromones to attract a male to them. In this species, females don't even leave their cocoons, so wings are unnecessary. They just send out pheromones and wait for the males to come flying. Male moths generally have very bushy antennae because that's how they detect the female's pheromones
 
@Greasylake Because the female is never capable of long distance travel (caterpillars don't stray too far from their host plant, pupa are incapable of movement, and the adults are wingless), they usually are already on their host plant to begin with. So she's usually already on a suitable food plant when she ecloses.

In the case of this one, since I found it as a 2nd instar caterpillar far from any plants, it likely got carried away by the wind, a person, or a predator. Had I left it, it would've died before it was even an adult and able to lay eggs. So since it wouldn't have even reached adulthood if it wasn't on an appropriate plant (or in this case provided the appropriate food), it's very existence as an adult is enough to mean it's on a suitable plant. Hopefully that makes sense, it's kind of difficult to explain clearly
 
@ChanTheMan She’s not large, maybe a 1/2 inch at most. I'll try offering her sugar water, but I have a suspicion that the adults don't eat. As caterpillars, they eat a wide range of tree leaves like birch, oak, elm, and willow to name a few. I honestly don't know exactly what type of leaves I gave her (I just offered her leaves from a tree near where I found her that she seemed to like), but the caterpillars aren't too picky
 

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