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Hag Moth (Phobetron pithecium)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Hag Moth

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Image Credit: Jay P.
Full-sized image of the Hag-Moth Thumbnail image of the Hag-Moth
Image Credit: Jay P.
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Image Credit: Ted W. from Land O' Lakes, FL
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The distinctive Hag Moth has an even more unusual caterpillar so peculiar that needed its own name: Monkey Slug.

Updated: 09/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Hag Moth is a member of the Slug Caterpillar Moth family. Many of the larvae (caterpillars) of these moths are visual oddities. Covered in a brown, short-haired coat, the tentacle-like arms extend and reach out as the caterpillar crawls, giving the appearance of a terrestrial octopus. These lobes are delicate and a few may be missing. Though other hairy caterpillars have a reputation for prickly defenses, this caterpillar does not sting. Quite often, the caterpillars of this family attract more interest than the adult moths.

Hag Moths are extremely furry. Tufts of hair extend from every leg. Both genders are a dark mottled brown, though males have translucent wings. Females are larger than males and have light ivory hair on their legs while males do not. Adults are rarely seen but can be found in forests, woods and fields from late spring through summer.

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: Limacodidae
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          Genus: Phobetron
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            Species: pithecium
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Phobetron pithecium
Other Name(s): Monkey Slug Caterpillar
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 28mm (0.78" to 1.10")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, black, white, tan
Descriptors: hairy, furry, fuzzy, weird, legs, flying, tentacles, arms, octopus

Hag-Moth Video(s)

Stinging hairs on the caterpillar of the Hag Moth cause pain for those who pet it..

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 28mm (1.1in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 24mm
Hi: 28mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Hag 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 Hag Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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