Dryocampa rubicunda (F.) (Saturniidae)
L.L. Hyche, Associate Professor
Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology
The greenstriped mapleworm (Photo 1) occurs throughout eastern United States as far west as Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and north into adjacent areas of southern Canada. Maples are the preferred hosts, but the caterpillar will feed also on boxelder and has been reported to feed on some oaks.
Life Cycle, Description, and Habits
External structures of mapleworm larvae and habits of the species are very similar to those of the Anisota oakworms; at one time, the species was classified in the oakworm genus Anisota. The mapleworm overwinters as a pupa in the soil. Adults usually emerge in late April or early May. The adult (Photo 2), sometimes called the rosy maple moth, is an attractive moth. The body is woolly, cream or yellow on top, and pink underneath. The front wing is rose-pink at the outer margin and base with a cream or yellow band between. The hind wing may be solid yellow or cream or may have some pink areas. Wingspan is 35-50 mm.
Females lay eggs in clusters on the undersurface of leaves during May. Early stage larvae (Photo 3) tend to feed in groups, consuming whole leaves. The head is black and the body yellowish cream with greenish longitudinal lines (lines are sometimes dim in early stage larvae). Late-stage larvae tend to separate and feed singly. The full-grown caterpillar (Photo 1) is about 40 mm long. The head is cherry red and the body yellow-green with seven dark-green lines running down the length. There are two conspicuous long black spines on the second segment of the thorax, and two rows of short spines along each side of the body.
Caterpillars from the spring moth emergence usually become fully grown during June and enter the soil and pupate. New adults emerge in about two weeks and lay eggs to begin a second generation. In Alabama, the second generation usually occurs during late July, August, early September.
Occurrence, Damage, Importance
The various maples are the preferred hosts in Alabama. Both woodland and urban/suburban trees are subject to infestation; however, the caterpillar is usually most important as a pest on shade and ornamental landscape maples. In some years, infestations are fairly common. Damage from loss of foliage is largely aesthetic; trees usually survive and recover, but some loss in growth and dieback in the crown may occur.