How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Saltmarsh caterpillar—Estigmene acrea

Adult moths have a wing expanse of 5 to 6.5 cm. The female is white, except for an orange abdomen with black lateral and dorsal spots and black spots on the wings. Hind wings of males are orange instead of white. Caterpillars are very hairy with conspicuous tufts of long hair on each segment.

Life cycle


Young larvae feed in groups on the underside of leaves; leaf veins and the leaf surface remain intact. Older larvae feed independently, eating through leaves and leaving the foliage ragged.


The saltmarsh caterpillar has many natural enemies and seldom requires special control practices. Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad are effective against very small caterpillars.

Saltmarsh caterpillar adultSaltmarsh caterpillar adult

Larvae and damageLarvae and damage

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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