Monday, November 08, 2010

Furry Fury

This furry teardrop-shaped object is the caterpillar of the southern flannel moth. It is said to be (for what it's worth) the "best" known stinging caterpillar in Texas and also one of the most venomous in the U.S. In fact, Texas ranks highest in envenomations.

This particular pelage of brislty hair has a hidden feature. Note how it has a ridge that runs down the center of its back. Beneath this ridge are rows of spines, similar to porcupine quills, that are hollow and each connected to a sac of venom. When rubbed against its sting causes a burning sensation- close to that of the tip of a lit cigarette.

I say this because I speak from experience. When I was a young lad one of these decided that it wanted to crawl on the arm of a lawn chair that was in our front yard. Well then I decided that I wanted to sit in said lawn chair. Needless to say I was unaware of the fuzzy visitor and put my arm right on top of it. And believe me it wasn't there long. It will select a branch in an oak or other deciduous tree or shrub soon, encase itself in a cocoon for the winter and emerge next spring as a harmless fluffy moth.



Reference:

Envenomation by the asp caterpillar

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