The buck moth occurs throughout the eastern United States from Maine to Florida west to Texas, Kansas, and Wisconsin. Caterpillars (Photo 1) feed on foliage of oak. Scrub, live, blackjack, and post oaks are reported as favored hosts.
Young larva (Photo 2) are dark brown to black. Full-grown caterpillars (Photo 1) are about 60 mm long. The head is dark reddish-brown to black, and the body brown to black sprinkled liberally with small yellowish dots. There is a double row of short, tannish tufts of spines down the back, and rows of longer red to black, bristly tubercles to each side. Tubercles are armed with yellow and black urticating spines. Early stage larvae feed in a group; late-stage caterpillars separate and feed singly. In June, mature larvae enter the soil and transform to pupae. The pupal stage (Photo 3) lasts through the summer, and new moths emerge in the fall. There is one generation per year.
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All photos courtesy of Lacy L. Hyche