Red-Headed Azalea Caterpillar of Azalea

Disease Information

Red-Headed Azalea Caterpillar


The red-headed azalea caterpillar (Datana major) is the larva (immature form) of a moth. At about 3/8 inch long, the caterpillar is reddish- to brownish-black with white and yellow stripes. When mature, the caterpillar reaches 2 inches in length and is almost black with a red head and legs and with white broken longitudinal lines running along the body.


Symptoms and damage

Red-headed azalea caterpillars feed in groups and may defoliate much of an azalea before they are detected. When disturbed, they raise their heads and tails. Most of the damage is done in late summer.


 The caterpillars can be removed by hand as they are harmless to humans. For chemical control, treat when caterpillars are first noticed. Recommended insecticides that are available in homeowner size packaging include B.t., spinosad, bifenthrin, lambda cyhalothrin, permethrin, acephate, carbaryl and cyfluthrin.


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