Drexel's Datana
Datana drexelii (Henry Edwards) (Notodontidae)

L.L. Hyche, Associate Professor
Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology
Auburn University

The insect is apparently an eastern species, but is reported most common in northern areas - South Carolina to Kentucky and northward. Caterpillars (Photo 1) are reported to feed on birch, blueberry, linden, sassafras, sourwood, and witch-hazel. Alabama specimens pictured here were collected at Auburn from sourwood.

Life Cycle, Description, and Habits

The larva of D. drexelii is similar to the yellownecked caterpillar. The head and body are black. The cervical shield, or "collar", and front of the thorax are yellow, forming a "yellow neck." There are 11 (counting the ventral line) yellow longitudinal stripes along the body, with the lateral stripes connected at the rear with a small yellow (reddish yellow in specimens pictured) patch on abdominal segment nine or on segments eight and nine. Full-grown larvae are 45-50 mm long. Life cycle and habits are similar to those of the yellownecked caterpillar and other species of Datana. Eggs are laid in clusters on host leaves. Newly hatched larvae skeletonize the leaf; older larvae consume all but the midrib. Caterpillars are gregarious throughout development, defoliating one branch and moving to another. In the Auburn vicinity, larvae were present during August through September. The insect overwinters as a pupa in the soil. Apparently only one brood occurs per season.

Occurrence, Damage, Importance

Drexel's datana has not been common in our area. So far, it has been found only on sourwood. Broods have been small and scattered, and foliage loss minimal.

For additional information lhyche@acesag.auburn.edu

[ Notodontidae ]  [ Lepidoptera ]   [ Foliage Feeders ]   [ Crown Insects ]   [ Alabama Trees ]

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