This is one of several species of moths in the genus Datana, and it is found throughout eastern North America west to Oklahoma and Texas, and has even been found in Arizona. The larvae restrict their feeding to trees such as walnut, pecan, and hickory, and outbreaks of the caterpillars may result in serious defoliation of the trees and forested areas. The female deposits masses of 120-880 eggs on the undersurface of a leaf. The larvae feed gregariously when young, skeletonizing leaves in small areas of the tree, but as they mature they spread out to consume entire leaves throughout the tree. A single generation occurs in northern regions and two generations may occur in southern states. When a tree is sufficiently defoliated the larvae will drop to the ground and seek out other nearby host trees. When mature the larva falls to the ground to burrow into the soil to pupate, spending the winter in the pupa.
When discovered early the mass of feeding larvae can be physically removed by pruning off the section of the branch and disposing of it. Where this is not possible or when larvae are feeding generally on the tree a contact insecticide may be applied.