I know that I wrote about the Puss Moth yesterday but that was the European Puss Moth. Today we are going to look at the North American Puss Moth (Megalopyge opercularis). In my opinion this particular moth is even more interesting than the European variety and would probably strip the “Most Dangerous Caterpillar in Britain” title away from their British competitor, if this species could be found across the pond. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look it) the North American Puss Moth can only be found throughout the southern United States, Mexico and parts of Central America.
Once again we will discuss the adult and caterpillar stages of this particular moth. The adult has a very odd appearance, as does the caterpillar but we will get to him in a minute. The adult version is covered in long orange to yellow fur and has hairy legs and of course furry little feet to top it all off. Just like the European Puss Moth the larvae of the North American variety is a lot more interesting so let’s look at the caterpillar stage.
The caterpillar also has long, luxurious hair which resembles that of a Persian cat. Apparently this is how the name “Puss” Moth came about but who knows how some of these names were created. The problem with this caterpillar is their soft, furry bodies makes you want to pick them up and pet them. I highly recommend that you do not and I repeat do not pick up these furry little buggers. The “fur” or hair-like setae if you want to get technical contains venomous spines which will cause extremely painful reactions to human skin. Obviously some cases are worse than others but I have read one persons story that was stung by this caterpillar. Within 15 minutes she went from having an excruciating pain in her finger (where she was stung) to having the pain shoot up her arm and into her chest before she became unconscious. This is most likely a severe case, however, it just goes to illustrate the potential reaction that this cute, furry caterpillar can inflict upon humans. I am just thinking about the number of furry caterpillars I played with when I was a kid. It sure is a good thing I didn’t grow up in the Southern United States.
By now I am sure you are afraid to even look at a caterpillar but if you do get stung and are looking for some remedies than I highly suggest checking out the Bug in the News website. By the way this is a very informative insect website for all bugs.
I hope you enjoyed the Second Wild Fact on the Puss Moth. Have a great day.