The oak moth, mostly pink in color having stripes on it, is shown to be a silkworm in the Saturniidae family. It is also known as Anisota virginiensis. Differs in distinct coloration of adults. The larvae are hungry feeders. They feed on the branches of host plants, partially neutralizing them. When the population of oak moths increases rapidly, then an outbreak will happen. During epidemics, weakened or diseased trees can be further destabilized. The southern part of the range of the prickly oak worm, found in various habitats, including mixed deciduous forests. However, in the north, it increasingly becomes a heathland or bush habitat specialist, inhabiting tar pine and bush oak wastelands and bush oak thickets. It is easily seen in southern New Jersey and also occurs in the south. They do not occur commonly in Pennsylvania.
Oakworm Moth Life cycle
The pink-striped oak worm butterfly gives one generation in the northern part of its range and two generations in the south. Before completing its life cycle, the insect goes through four stages: the egg stage, the larval stage, the pupa stage, and the adult stage. Adults emerge from the doll caves from late June to early July. Females emit a pheromone that attracts males. Once males find females, they mate. Mating usually takes place in the morning. After fertilization, the females move to the host trees and lay clusters of eggs on the underside of the leaves.
The time for hatching of eggs will occur after 1 or 2 weeks. The larva of the oak moth first form on the leaves of that plant, and then they collectively eat the foliage of the plants. As they grow older, the larvae begin to separate from the groups and feed on their own. When the nymph gets mature, it starts crawling on the soil. They also burrow the ground in which they pupate. Once on the earth, the larvae build tiny burrows in which they pupate. The larvae hibernate in holes, and the next summer appears as adults, starting the cycle again.
Oakworm Moth Eggs
Orange-tipped oak butterfly eggs are yellow and round. They are deposited in clusters on the underside of oak leaves. Larvae of oak worm moths are greenish-yellow in color at the starting time, and as they also have stripes, so these stripes are orange or maybe sometimes yellow that goes down to the back of the moth body along with every side of the body.
Oakworm Moth Facts
The oak worm is considered to be very spiny worms, not causing any harm. They do not sting as well. Oakworm has spines that look dangerous and poisonous, but they cause no damage, and it is present on its rib cage. According to the research, it has been discovered that the oak worm belongs to the family of caterpillars that have horned on it. These horns are two in number and have two long spines which are curved and present behind the head. In New York State, the spiny oak butterfly is known to be found in only one population on Long Island, in the dwarf pine wastelands of Suffolk County. North of New Jersey, this species is very specific to its habitat and is known to be found only in pine heaths and scrublands (Wagner et al. 2003; NatureServe 2010).
This species is very rare in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and has been eradicated or is historical from the rest of New England. It can also be very rare in New York State (Schweitzer 1996). However, different populations may still be found in pine heaths and scrublands, and more research is needed better to understand its status and distribution in the state.
The short-term trend of the spiny oak butterfly in New York State indicates that the population remains stable. The presence of a species for several years in one documented population in a state indicates that the population is viable and reproducing. The number of spiny oak worms is known to have declined in the northeast (Wagner 2005). The long-term trend for this species in New York State is unknown, but on Long Island, species numbers are likely to have declined from historical numbers due to habitat loss from development and fire suppression. It is now known that one common territory occupied by a mole belongs to several government organizations and private owners.
Oakworm Moth Control
Stop oak worms early to ensure a healthy summer canopy. Apply a product containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bio-pesticide, on a sunny spring day when the caterpillars are active.