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Lagarta-macaco (Monkey slug)

Phobetron pithecium (JE Smith, 1797)


The larva is distinctive, with no close analogues although it may be mistaken for the shed skin of a hairy spider or leaf debris. It has six pairs of curly projections, three long and three short from the flattened body, each densely covered in hairs. According to David L. Wagner, who experimented on himself, the hairs do not sting, contrary to popular belief. However, susceptibility can vary among humans and it may produce a reaction in some people. Some members of the family Limacodidae do sting. Like all limacodids, the legs are shortened and the prolegs are reduced to suction cups. The 'arms' can fall off without harming the caterpillar. Maximum length of larvae, 2.5 cm.


Eats a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs, not limited to: apple, ash, birch, cherry, chestnut, dogwood, hickory, oak, persimmon, walnut, willow.

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Petrópolis, RJ, Brazil

Spotted on Feb 25, 2006
Submitted on Feb 23, 2016

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