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Yellow-necked caterpillars

A yellow-necked caterpillar
Katja Schulz
A yellow-necked caterpillar

Datana ministra, the yellownecked caterpillar, is a moth of the family Notodontidae. It is found in southern Canada and the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, in the south-west it ranges to California. The wingspan is about 42 mm. There is one generation per year.

The larvae feed on Malus, Quercus, Betula and Salix species. Young larvae skeletonise the leaves of their host plant. Later, they feed on all of the leaf except the leaf stalk. They feed in groups. The larvae are yellowish and black striped and covered with fine, white hairs. The head is black. Full-grown larvae are about 50 mm long. Mature larvae drop to the soil to pupate underground, where they spend the winter.

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Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's <i>NatureScene</i>, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. After retiring from SCETV, Rudy went on to become naturalist-in-residence at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. He hosted SC Public Radio's <i>NatureNotes</i> from 1999 until his death in 2023 at age 78.