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rosy maple moth

Dryocampa rubicunda

What do they look like?

Some rosy maple moths are bright yellow and pink, and others are all white. Their bodies are bright yellow, cream, or white, and look fluffy. They are usually pink on their belly, legs, and antennae. Their top wings are yellow, cream, or white with pink edges. Some have lots of pink spots on their wings and others have almost none. For example, a subspecies that only lives in Missouri is almost all white. (Collins, et al., 1996; Cotinis, 2004)

Male and female rosy maple moths have wings that are different shapes and sizes. Males have narrower wings, and females have more rounded back wings. Males and females have wingspans of 32 to 55 mm, and the front wings of males are 17 to 29 mm. Males also have more complicated antennae that look like feathers. (Collins, et al., 1996; Cotinis, 2004; VanDyke, 2006)

Caterpillars of rosy maple moths, which are also called green-striped mapleworms, change colors as they develop. At first, they have black heads and pale yellow or cream bodies and green stripes. Once they are fully grown, their heads turn beige to bright red. Their bodies are yellow-green with 7 dark green lines. The lines can also be frosty blue, blue-green, or black. The caterpillars have black horns on their back. They also have two rows of spines along their sides, which are larger at the ends. Closely-related moths also have caterpillars with horns, but are not as brightly colored. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; "The Greenstriped Mapleworm", 2010; Hyche, 2000)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • sexes shaped differently
  • ornamentation
  • Range length
    38 to 55 mm
    1.50 to 2.17 in
  • Range wingspan
    32 to 55 mm
    1.26 to 2.17 in

Where do they live?

Rosy maple moths live in the United States and Canada. The farthest north they live is southern Canada, including southern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. They are found down the East Coast of the United States through most of Florida. They are also found west to Michigan, Indiana, Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; Collins, et al., 1996; Cotinis, 2004; Forbes, 1960; Hyche, 2000; Oehlke, 2005; Opler, et al., 2012; VanDyke, 2006; Ward and Herbert, 1974)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Rosy maple moths live in forests with trees that lose their leaves. They are found in parts of eastern North America that have seasons. Trees they often live on include red maples, sugar maples, silver maples, turkey oaks, and box elder maples. Sometimes, they are found in suburban areas where humans live. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; Cotinis, 2004; Hyche, 2000; Opler, et al., 2012; VanDyke, 2006)

  • These animals are found in the following types of habitat
  • temperate

How do they grow?

Female rosy maple moths mate underneath a leaf and lay eggs 24 hours later. They hatch into larvae 2 weeks later, and go through 5 stages of development. In the first 3 stages, larvae live and eat together. They start eating independently in the 4th stage. At first, larvae have shiny black heads and yellow bodies with black lines. They have tiny setae on their bodies, which are like hairs. Their legs are black and have yellow tips. As they develop, their bodies and stripes get darker, and they get horns and spines. Next, their heads turn brown and their bodies turn dark or light green, black and green, or black and yellow. After another 10 to 14 days, they become pupae, which lasts 4 to 7 days. (Collins, et al., 1996; Eliot and Soule, 1902; Packard, 1893; VanDyke, 2006)

How do they reproduce?

Rosy maple moths mate during the night, and females lay their eggs the next evening just before sunset. They lay eggs on the underside of leaves of the tree where they live, like a sugar maple tree. Both males and females mate with a new partner each time they produce eggs. (Opler, et al., 2012; Packard, 1893; VanDyke, 2006)

Adult rosy maple moths emerge from pupae between mid-May and mid-July. They are able to reproduce right away, and lay the most eggs in early July. Females lay 150 to 200 eggs 24 hours after mating. They deposit the eggs in groups of 10 to 30 underneath a leaf on the tree where they live. The larvae take 2 weeks to hatch and feed until mid-August at the latest. Females in Canada lay eggs once, but females in the Florida lay eggs 3 times. Sometimes, the larvae spend the winter as pupae. If they do, they burrow into the soil and wait for better conditions to come out. They are able to reproduce themselves after 2 to 9 months. ("The Greenstriped Mapleworm", 2010; Jervis, et al., 2005; Packard, 1893; VanDyke, 2006)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Rosy maple moths breed one to three times in a season, depending on the latitude of their host tree.
  • Breeding season
    Oviposition peaks in early July, though females living farthest south breed from March to October.
  • Range eggs per season
    150 to 200
  • Average gestation period
    24 hours
  • Range time to independence
    0 to 0 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 9 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 9 months

Females lay eggs on the underside of leaves on a host tree, but don't care for the eggs after that. Males only contribute their reproductive cells. (Packard, 1893; VanDyke, 2006)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

How long do they live?

Rosy maple moths live 2 to 9 months in the wild if they postpone development until after the winter. Rosy maple moths raised in captivity usually live 2 to 5 months. The reason they live less time in captivity is that they don't stay as pupae during the winter. (Collins, et al., 1996; Eliot and Soule, 1902; Jervis, et al., 2005; VanDyke, 2006)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    2 to 9 months
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    1 to 3 months

How do they behave?

Rosy maple moths live most of their lives by themselves. They are active at night, and they reduce their body temperature and activity in the morning and afternoon. At night, females release chemicals called pheromones to attract males. Adults spend the first third of the night flying. Rosy maple moth larvae feed together at first, and then later start to eat by themselves as they get older. In the winter, caterpillars turn into pupae in shallow holes in the ground. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; Fullard and Napoleone, 2001; Opler, et al., 2012)

Home Range

Rosy maple moths don't need food, so they can live in a large area. Their larvae and caterpillars live on the same tree where they hatched. Larvae only eat leaves, but usually stay on the underside of them. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; "The Greenstriped Mapleworm", 2010; Collins, et al., 1996; Cotinis, 2004; Hyche, 2000; Opler, et al., 2012; Packard, 1893; VanDyke, 2006)

How do they communicate with each other?

Rosy maple moths have most of their sensing receptors in their antennae, legs and in prongs coming out from their mouth area, which are called palps. These receptors allow them to smell chemicals called pheromones when it is time for them to reproduce. They also have both compound eyes and simple eyes, and can see ultraviolet rays. As caterpillars, they only have simple eyes which they can use to tell the difference between light and dark. Adults and caterpillars have tiny hairs called setae which are their sense of touch. Adults also setae to tell the direction of the wind as they are flying. Rosy maple moths don't have the organs needed to hear. Both caterpillars and adults communicate warnings to predators with their bright colors. (Bailey and Horn, 2007; Collins, et al., 1996; Fullard and Napoleone, 2001)

What do they eat?

Adult rosy maple moths do not eat. Larvae eat the leaves of the trees where they hatched. At first, the larvae feed together, but they start to feed alone later on. As they develop, the caterpillars feed on the underside of maple or oak trees. Both larvae and caterpillars eat the whole leaf blade. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; Opler, et al., 2012; Packard, 1893)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Rosy maple moths lay eggs on the underside of leaves, which helps shield them from birds. Their caterpillars have warning colors with their black spikes and red heads. They also have camouflage colors because they are bright green like the leaves they live on and feed. Adults have warning colors because they are bright yellow and pink. They are not very acceptable as food to birds, but can be eaten by local birds like bluejays, black-capped chickadees, and ufted titmouses. Bluejays are their most successful predators. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; "The Greenstriped Mapleworm", 2010; Bailey and Horn, 2007; Collins, et al., 1996; Fullard and Napoleone, 2001; Sargeant, 1995)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Adult rosy maple moths don't eat, so they don't affect thier ecosystem as predators. Larvae and caterpillars can be pests when there are a lot of them on a maple or oak tree. Their larvae are sometimes eaten by birds, and also get infected with parasites. The parasites that can affect them are one kind of parasitic wasp and one kind of fly. Parasites are not common enough to affect the whole population. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; "The Greenstriped Mapleworm", 2010; Opler, et al., 2012)

Species (or larger taxonomic groups) used as hosts by this species
  • sugar maples (Acer saccharum)
  • red maples (Acer rubrum)
  • silver maples (Acer saccharinum)
  • elder box maples (Acer negundo)
  • oak trees (Quercus cerris)
Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host

Do they cause problems?

Adult rosy maple moths don't have negative economic impacts on humans, but they can sometimes eat all of the leaves on a tree. This does not usually kill or hurt the tree permanently. It is more likely to happen if they eat leaves together with saddled prominent moths. Also, rosy maple moth larvae can be a nuisance to decorative trees as house pests. ("The Green Striped Maple Worm", 1971; "The Greenstriped Mapleworm", 2010; Collins, et al., 1996; Cotinis, 2004; Covell, 1984; Fullard and Napoleone, 2001; Hyche, 2000; Oehlke, 2005; Opler, et al., 2012; VanDyke, 2006)

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • household pest

How do they interact with us?

There are no known positive economic impacts of rosy maple moths on humans.

Are they endangered?

Rosy maple moths are not considered threatened or endangered. (VanDyke, 2006)


Alicia Damele (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


having colors that act to protect the animal, often from predators. For example: animals that are bright red or yellow are often toxic or distasteful, their colors discourage predators from eating them.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which bodily functions slow down, reducing their energy requirements so that they can live through a season with little food.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


"many forms." A species is polymorphic if its individuals can be divided into two or more easily recognized groups, based on structure, color, or other similar characteristics. The term only applies when the distinct groups can be found in the same area; graded or clinal variation throughout the range of a species (e.g. a north-to-south decrease in size) is not polymorphism. Polymorphic characteristics may be inherited because the differences have a genetic basis, or they may be the result of environmental influences. We do not consider sexual differences (i.e. sexual dimorphism), seasonal changes (e.g. change in fur color), or age-related changes to be polymorphic. Polymorphism in a local population can be an adaptation to prevent density-dependent predation, where predators preferentially prey on the most common morph.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


uses sight to communicate


U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forest Services. The Green Striped Maple Worm. Leaflet 77. St. Paul, Minnesota: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1971. Accessed February 24, 2012 at

2010. "The Greenstriped Mapleworm" (On-line). Natural Resources Canada. Accessed February 24, 2012 at


Ballard, J. 1890. Among the Moths and Butterflies. New York: G.P Putnam and Sons.

Collins, M., P. Tuskes, J. Tuttle. 1996. The Wild Silk Moths of North America. Cornell University: Cornell University Press. Accessed February 24, 2012 at

Cotinis, P. 2004. "Bugguide" (On-line). Accessed February 24, 2012 at

Covell, C. 1984. A Field Guide to the Moths of Eastern North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Eliot, I., C. Soule. 1902. Caterpillars and their moths. New York: The Century Co.. Accessed February 24, 2012 at

Forbes, W. 1960. Lepidoptera of New York and Neighboring States. New York: New York State College of Agriculture Experiment Station.

Fullard, J., N. Napoleone. 2001. Diel flight periodicity and the evolution of auditory defences in the Macrolepidoptera. Animal Behavior, 62(2): 349-368. Accessed February 02, 2012 at

Hyche, L. 2000. "Greenstriped Mapleworm" (On-line). Auburn University. Accessed February 24, 2012 at

Jervis, M., C. Boggs, P. Ferns. 2005. Egg maturation strategy and its associated trade-offs: a synthesis focusing on Lepidoptera. Ecological Entomology, 30(4): 359-375. Accessed March 26, 2012 at

Oehlke, B. 2005. "P.E.I.R.T.A." (On-line). Sphingidae of Prince Edward Island. Accessed February 02, 2012 at <>..

Opler, P., K. Lotts, T. Naberhaus. 2012. "Butterflies and Moths of North America" (On-line). Accessed February 02, 2012 at

Packard, A. 1893. The Life Histories of Certain Moths of the Families Ceratocampidœ, Hemileucidœ, etc., with Notes on the Armature of the Larvœ. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 31/141: 139-192.

Riotte, J. 1992. Miscellaneous Publications in the Life Sciences. Toronto, Canada: Royal Ontario Museum.

Roeder, K. 1974. Acoustic sensory responses and possible bat- evasion tactics of certain moths. Proceedings of the Canadian Society of Zoologists Annual Meeting: 71-78.

Sargeant, T. 1995. On the Relative Acceptabilities of Local Butterflies and Moths to Local Birds. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 49(2): 148-162. Accessed March 26, 2012 at

VanDyke, J. 2006. ""Dryocampus rubicunda"" (On-line). Accessed February 02, 2012 at <>..

Ward, H., P. Herbert. 1974. The Macrohete- rocera of south-eastern Ontario. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera, 13: 23-42.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Damele, A. 2013. "Dryocampa rubicunda" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 24, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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