Tussock moth caterpillars have four brushes of hair on their backs. There are also long, black hairs on their heads. The hairs are a defense system. Touching the hairs can cause painful reactions if they come into contact with skin. The caterpillars have a gland that releases chemicals as a second line of defense. The hairs are left in the cocoon after the caterpillar has changed into an adult. Eggs are laid between the hairs for protection.
Did you Know?
The female rusty tussock moth has no wings. She attracts a mate with fragrance after she emerges from her cocoon. She then lays her eggs inside the empty cocoon. The eggs stay warm inside the cocoon all through winter before hatching in spring.