Douglas Fir Tussock Moth caterpillar

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While weeding, I found a furry critter crawling through my daylilies.  I
have never seen this one before and came in to see if I could ID it.  I
brought the little critter in on a leaf and piece of paper.

I think what I have is the above caterpillar.  It's color first threw me off
when I went to the website for Caterpillars of the Pacific Northwest (kin to
Butterflies of Oregon website).  It is cream, not the brown coloring of the
pics I found at the site.  But then I did a little googling and found the
following, which says that they can be cream or "blonde".  Gave me a chuckle
to see the "blonde" in quotes - as if the critter weren't a true blonde!  I
guess only her hairdresser knows for sure.  ;-)

http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/fidls/tussock/fidl-tuss.htm

What the site said is that during infestations they can be found on the
ground, which is where I found this guy.  I've never seen these before but
now I'm wondering if our area is due for a large explosion (similar to what
you up north are dealing with the tent caterpillars).  My neighbors have a
very large, very old Doug fir (they designed their house to take advantage
of this beauty) and he (she?) could easily have come from this tree into my
yard - it's not a long distance.

Any thoughts?

I'm off to see if I can figure out how to use our digital camera to try to
take its pic to post later.  I'm still only guessing what I have.  I'm
fairly unfamiliar with the ID terms for caterpillars - there aren't petals,
sepals or pistils to count.  ;-)

Lisa
Tualatin, OR


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