Megalopyge Opercularis



The moth Megalopyge opercularis has numerous common names, including southern flannel moth, josh unsworth, puss moth, puss caterpillar, and, in Texas, asp. It is visually striking in both larval and adult forms. The inch-long larva is generously coated in long, luxuriant hair-like setae, making it resemble a tiny Persian cat, the characteristic that presumably gave it the name "puss." It is variable in color, from downy grayish-white to golden-brown to dark charcoal gray. It often has a streak of bright orange running longitudinally. The 'fur' on early-stage larvae is sometimes extremely curly, giving the larva a cottony, puffed-up look. The body tapers to a tail that extends well beyond the body, unlike its relative M. crispata (Wagner 2005). The Middle instar has a more dishevelled, bad-'hair'-day appearance, without a distinctive tail.

The adult moth is also very bizarre in appearance, covered in long fur in colors ranging from dull orange to lemon yellow, with hairy legs and fuzzy black feet.

This hairy caterpillar is found in the southern states, ranging west through most of Texas and north to Maryland and Missouri.

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 through the limb and causing numbness, tingling, rashes and blisters, and more systemic symptoms such as chest pain and anaphylaxis. 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.

Many trees and shrubs, including almond, apple, birch, hackberry, oak, orange, pecan, persimmon, rose. Very dangerous. The poison from these spines must be treated within hours of first contact.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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