Although the species name of the yellow woolly bear (Spilosoma virginica) refers to the State of Virginia, this moth is found in wet forests and meadows throughout much of North America. Appropriately, an alternate common name for S. virginica is Virginian tiger moth. Earlier this month this caterpillar was sitting on a fence near South Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon (Marion County).
The larvae (or caterpillars) of yellow woolly bear moths are seen more often than the adults, which fly during the night. The adults have a few small dark spots on their white wings and white and orange abdomens. The caterpillars occur in the fall and overwinter as pupae in cocoons attached to leaves.
The yellow woolly bear caterpillar varies in color from light yellow to light brown with the color uniformly dispersed over the entire body. The head is not separately colored nor are there any tufts of different colors.
Feeding on low-growing green plants such as grasses, dandelions, Queen Anne’s lace and clovers, yellow woolly bear caterpillars are defoliators, skeletonizing the leaves that they feed upon.
Now I need to find an adult yellow woolly bear moth, a quest that will need to wait until next summer when the adult moths fly again.