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Butterfly Farming Milkweed Tussock Moth (Euchaetes egle)

The Milkweed Tussock Moth: A Fuzzy Forager of the Milkweed Plant

The Milkweed Tussock Moth (Euchaetes egle), with its unmistakable tufts of hair and striking appearance, is a notable inhabitant of North American landscapes.

The Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar (Euchaetes egle), also referred to as the Milkweed Tiger Moth. Shenandoah National Park, VA.

Though the name “Milkweed” is most commonly associated with the famous Monarch butterfly, this little moth has its own intricate relationship with the milkweed plant. Let’s delve into the world of the Milkweed Tussock Moth and its bond with the Asclepias genus.

Milkweed Tussock Moth (Euchaetes egle)

Appearance and Life Cycle

The caterpillar of the Milkweed Tussock Moth is a sight to behold. Covered in tufts of black, white, and orange hairs, it has a fuzzy appearance that makes it quite distinguishable. As it matures into an adult moth, it takes on a more subdued coloration, with grayish-brown wings featuring small, lighter spots.

Milkweed: A Primary Food Source

Milkweed plants, belonging to the Asclepias genus, serve as the primary food source for the larvae of the Milkweed Tussock Moth. Much like the Monarch butterfly’s caterpillars, the tussock moth caterpillars feed on milkweed leaves, extracting nutrients and, more importantly, the plant’s natural toxins.

By consuming these toxins, the caterpillars become distasteful and potentially harmful to potential predators, granting them a form of chemical defense. The bright coloration of the caterpillar—a combination of black, white, and orange—serves as a warning sign, signaling to predators about their unpalatable nature.

Role in the Ecosystem

Though they might not be as celebrated as the Monarch butterfly, Milkweed Tussock Moths play a significant role in the ecosystem. By feeding on milkweed, they help in controlling the growth of these plants, ensuring a balance in the habitats they occupy.


The Milkweed Tussock Moth, with its distinctive appearance and intimate relationship with the milkweed plant, underscores the intricate web of interactions within nature. Their reliance on Asclepias not only provides them with sustenance but also with a unique defense mechanism, showcasing the adaptive strategies of God’s many creatures.

As we continue to explore the connections between various species and their environments, the Milkweed Tussock Moth stands as a testament to the delicate balance and interdependence that characterizes our natural world.

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