The luxuriously soft hair on the Black-waved Flannel Moth entices a petting, but its caterpillar's smooth hairs are dangerously deceptive.
Black-waved Flannel Moths are a long-haired, creamy color with three wavy black lines that run along the outer edge of each forewing. Two black splotches follow the end of these lines. Thicker, brown, wavy lines run down the inner part of each forewing. Females are paler than males, which can be yellow in color. The thorax is covered in plush, long hairs and the pale, hairy legs have black feet. The hairs are shiny on the wings, with an almost crimped appearance. They look so soft, they beckon to be touched. Touching the caterpillar form of this moth, however, could mean a hospital visit.
The oval-shaped caterpillar of the Black-waved Flannel Moth is covered in long, orange-brown or white hairs. The white form resembles a tuft of cotton or spent dandelion head. The orange-brown hairs are groomed and lie flat along the caterpillar's body. Regardless of their color, theses are stinging hairs that embed themselves into skin, causing excruciating pain that tends to worsen after initial contact. A red pattern that matches the outline of the caterpillar's body may be visible. Symptoms of the venom injected by the hairs can range from redness, pain that radiates to other body parts, and irritation, to nausea, seizures, and muscle spasms depending on the victim, where they are stung, and how many spines get embedded into the skin. Those with allergies are especially at risk and should contact a physician immediately. Treatments may include using tape to pull off any hairs left in the skin, putting ice on the area, use of hydrocortisone cream, anti-histamines, prescribed painkillers, and/or corticosteroid injections.
Because caterpillars feed on a variety of trees and shrubs, they may be found in areas like parks, playgrounds, backyards, and trails. Teach children to avoid contact with any type of hairy or spiny caterpillar. Awareness of adult moth activity can help keep people alert in areas where a population is present. Adults do not eat, so their presence is a sign of reproduction and a subsequent egg-hatch. In warmer regions, two generations each year may be produced.
Scientific Name: Megalopyge crispata
Other Name(s): Crinkled Flannel Moth, White Flannel Moth, Puss Caterpillar
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 22mm to 40mm (0.86in to 1.56in)
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Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.