My yard is infested with these adorable animate hairpieces. They look soft and cuddly, but if you ever see one of these (common in the US south), DO NOT TOUCH! Those hairs conceal heavy duty spines capable of injecting a highly potent venom. Even a light brush is enough to send some people to the ER.
I had heard about flannel moth caterpillars soon after I moved to Texas, and I made a mental note to not touch anything unless I knew for sure that it couldn’t hurt me (hasn’t kept me from getting bitten but I have never been stung because I was an idiot!). I was *hoping* that Texas was overrun by these guys, but after four years of not seeing one, I gave up.
… then I moved out to the country. And these babies are EATING MY PLUM SAPLING. I suspected these were the flannel moth caterpillars because of the joke about them looking like they escaped from the head of a particular unpopular individual, but they are TINY! and all of the photos online show mature caterpillars, not young ones. However, the family is distinct in that they have 7 pairs of prolegs (their little suction cup “feet”–more than usual for caterpillars!), and guess who was showing off 14 little prolegs today?
I was a little unnerved at first. I go out into the yard every day to manhandle plants to feed to the other caterpillars, and last night I found this beautiful fluffy baby eating a leaf in the stick insect tank. Did I mention these are highly venomous? That a sting on your finger can cause shooting pain and swelling up to your shoulder? Not exactly something I want to accidentally grab. So now I go out in the sweaty 90+ degree weather wearing vinyl gloves in the hope that they will save me.
So add flannel moths to the list of caterpillars invading my kitchen. The adults are totally harmless and look like fluffy teddy bears with wings. I’m trying to exercise moderation and NOT end up with hundreds of caterpillars again, so I only have four fluffy hairpieces.
PS: HAPPY MOTH WEEK EVERYONE!!!
June 12, 2017
Hey guys, remember when I was drowning in flannel moths? This was the beginning.
reblobbed January 4, 2019