This caterpillar is covered in long hair – including a little tuft that is somewhat reminiscent of the 80′s phenomenon the rat tail. oh
heck hair yes. Oh yes, and he delivers a wicked sting! Found by BFF RN and photographed at the Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.
These dudes are found all over the south central and southeastern US. They caterpillars munch on deciduous trees. It’s also called a Puss Caterpillar because of it’s long hair. The caterpillar matures into a Pussy Moth or a Flannel Moth. The adult is fuzzy and peculiar as well. When the caterpillar does not spin a traditional cocoon but will actually shed the thick furry skin and uses it as protection while it transforms.
Oh! The Pain!
The larva themselves are neat with the wild hair – but really, it’s the sting that gives it its notoriety. The hairs have tiny venomous barbs that cause incredibly painful reactions including: rashes, burning, swilling, blisters, numbness, nausea, headache, belly ache, difficulty breathing and severe pain radiating all the away from the contact area.
The reactions can get severe and may warrant medical attention. The big thing is, people see little furry things and they want to pick them up. Um, that is for kittens and puppies – not asp caterpillars.