Soft and Fluffy – Flannel Moths and Puss Caterpillars

14 Jan
A fluffy megalopygid moth rest on a leaf at night (Welder Wildlife Refuge, TX).

A flannel moth rests on a leaf (Megalopygidae).

I found this fluffy little moth resting on a leaf near a light at the Welder Wildlife Refuge.  The soft, fuzzy appearance of the moths gives them their common name, flannel moths (Megalopygidae).  These moths are probably best known for their strange, furred looking caterpillars (called asps or puss caterpillars) which can deliver a painful, long-lasting sting with the venomous spines hidden under their soft furry countenance.  The cocoons of these moths have an interesting trap-door style “lid”, which allows an easy emergence for the adult moth.


3 Responses to “Soft and Fluffy – Flannel Moths and Puss Caterpillars”

  1. Mina January 16, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Hi! I’m trying to find an insect but to no avail! Can you help? I saw it on a nature program ages ago (would help if I remembered the name of that too!) and it seemed like a small yellow caterpillar. It stood up from a leaf and sort of wiggled about and when it did that sort of looked like a yellow slim teddybear. I know, far fetched and crap description, but it was ridiculously cute and now I can’t find it again! Anyway, love the blog!

    • 6legs2many January 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

      Standing up is a fairly common defense maneuver in a variety of caterpillars. I always think it’s fun to watch! Caterpillars are not my forte so I asked a labmate who does a lot of work with them, and this is her input:

      “Ummm….maybe a woolly bear caterpillar (Arctiiid)? They have several color morphs, and one of them is kind of yellowish. Or possibly some species of tussock moth caterpillar? Those are my best guesses…I’m guessing its furry since she said it looked like a teddy bear. “

      • Mina January 20, 2011 at 7:34 am #

        Hi! Thank you for checking for me! I should have said that it wasn’t furry, it was bad of me! It looked rather like a stretched out gummybear without the ears. One you eat, that is! Sorry about that. But seriously, don’t worry about it, was just asking on the off chance that someone would know it, hard without a clear image! 🙂 Have a good day!

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