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Black-waved Flannel Moth (Megalopyge crispata)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Black-waved Flannel Moth



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The luxuriously soft hair on the Black-waved Flannel Moth entices a petting, but its caterpillar's smooth hairs are dangerously deceptive.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Megalopygidae
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          Genus: Megalopyge
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            Species: crispata
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Megalopyge crispata
Other Name(s): Crinkled Flannel Moth, White Flannel Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 22mm to 40mm (0.86" to 1.57")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: ivory, brown, white, yellow, black
Descriptors: wavy, crimped, furry, hairy, bushy, soft, feathery, flying
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 22mm and 40mm
Lo: 22mm
Md: 31mm
Hi: 40mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Black-waved Flannel Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Black-waved Flannel Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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