Western sheepmoth caterpillars (also called the elegant sheepmoth) feed on trees and shrubs that include rose, hawthorn, cherry, willow, aspen, and birch. In their younger stages they prefer to dine with company, while in their older stages they dine alone. It’s best not to touch them or other Hemileuca species. They possess urticating spines that can cause an annoying rash or stinging pain.
As for the adults, if you are someone who still believes that butterflies are always more beautiful than moths, then you’ve met your match. The day flying moths are most frequently found in meadows from June to September. They are widely distributed in western North America (from the Rocky Mountains west to the Pacific, and from Southern California to southern Canada). At high elevations and northern latitudes, two years are needed to complete development.
Photo by: Rose Marchak on 6/19/21 in Missoula, MT