USDA Forest Service
 

Forest Health Protection, Southern Region

 

USDA Forest Service
Forest Health Protection
Region 8
1720 Peachtree Road, NW
Room 816 N
Atlanta, GA 30309

Phone: (404) 347-7478
Fax: (404) 347-1880

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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VARIABLE OAKLEAF CATERPILLAR,

Heterocampa manteo (Doubleday)

 

Importance. - This defoliator is common throughout eastern North America. It attacks a wide variety of hardwoods, including all species of oaks, but prefers the white oaks. Some infestations have covered millions of acres, retarding tree growth and reducing vigor. Outbreaks occur periodically and usually subside after 2 to 3 years, before serious tree mortality occurs.

Identifying the Insect. - The larval color is variable, but is generally yellowish green, with a narrow white stripe down the center of the back, and one or two yellowish stripes on the sides. The head is amber, with one dark and one light band on each side of the head. Mature larvae may reach I 1/2inches (37 mm) long. The adult moth is ashy gray, with three dark wavy lines across each forewing. The wingspan is approximately 1 1/2 inches (37 mm).

 

 

Larva and feeding damage

Larva and feeding damage.

 

 

Identifying the Injury. - Young larvae skeltonize the leaf, while older larvae devour the entire leaf except the leaf stalks and main veins. There are two periods of defoliation-early May to late June and mid-August to late September.

Biology. - There are two generations in the South and one generation in the North. In the South, the larvae feed from early May until late June and pupate in the soil. Second generation larvae feed from midAugust until late September, then move to the ground to spin cocoons and over winter. Adult moths emerge from cocoons by early spring.

Control. - Insect parasites and predators destroy eggs, larvae, and pupae. Winter mortality also helps keep most infestations in check. Chemical control is occasionally needed to protect high value trees.

 

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USDA Forest Service - Forest Health Protection, Southern Region
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:29 CST


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