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Southern Flannel Moth

Megalopyge opercularis


A small moth...maybe 1 inch long. Adorably fuzzy! Even the legs are furry.


I found it on my front porch. We live in a Longleaf Pine/Turkey Oak Sandhill area.


The caterpillar is known as a "puss" moth, and is also covered with masses of hair.... copied from Wikipedia: "The 'fur' of the larva contains venomous spines that cause extremely painful reactions in human skin upon contact. The reactions are sometimes localized to the affected area but are often very severe, radiating up a limb and causing burning, swelling, nausea, headache, abdominal distress, rashes, blisters, and sometimes chest pain, numbness, or difficulty breathing (Eagleman 2008). Additionally, it is not unusual to find sweating from the welts or hives at the site of the sting. Ironically, the resemblance of the larvae to soft, colorful cotton balls encourages people to pick them up and pet them. M. opercularis can be found on oaks, elms, citrus and other trees, and many garden plants such as roses and ivy. It is distributed throughout the southern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America. The larva does not spin a real cocoon, rather, it separates from its furry skin and uses it as a protective covering while it pupates." I'm glad I saw this, and got it ID'd pretty easily. I'll need to keep an eye out for those caterpillars! Very ouchy! I'd hate for my daughter to get into one. I haven't been able to determine if the moth hair also stings... I suspect not, but I didn't touch it... just in case. But it sure is cute....!

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1 Comment

MrsPbio 7 years ago


Spotted by

Florida, USA

Spotted on Aug 16, 2013
Submitted on Aug 19, 2013

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