Sunday, August 9, 2009

Flannel Moth Caterpillars, Cute But Deadly...

Yesterday we were hiking in an exceptional desert canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains and came across this cute little caterpillar hanging out on a bigtooth maple:

Jennifer's sleuthing revealed that is it a larval stage of the Black-waved Flannel Caterpillar. On its way to becoming a Yellow Flannel Moth, this fuzzy little critter appears cuddly but beware because, as David L. Wagner/Caterpillars of Eastern North America says, "...flannel moth larvae are among our most well-defended insects. Beneath the soft outer hairs are warts fortified with hollow, poison-filled stinging spines that are capable of delivering painful particularly large Amazonian species reaches more than 8 cm; stings from this behemoth, "el raton" (the rat) have purportedly resulted in human deaths."

Wow! Good thing we have a look-but-don't-touch policy. Still, this little one is very cute, we maintain (and deserves to be able to defend itself):

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