Dantana Caterpillar – Feeding on Oak Leaves

Q: My pin oak in my front yard has caterpillars eating the leaves. Should I be worried?

A: It is a hungry gathering of contracted dantana caterpillars, Datana contracta.

The orange-striped oak worm, Anisota senatoria, is a very similar caterpillar. It has short spikes on its body but doesn’t have hairs.

The two are generally considered harmless to oak trees.

Even though they may eat a lot of leaves, the trees have already done the majority of the photosynthesizing they need to do for next year.

The caterpillars feed for such a short time that there are usually enough green leaves left to the usher the oak into winter without problems.

Dantana contracta