9.19.2005

A True Touch-Me-Not

If you are ever out wandering around and you happen upon a furry looking...uh, thing, that appears to be munching out on the leaves of a hardwood tree or shrub, do yourself a favor and DO NOT TOUCH IT.

Sure, it's cute. Sure, it looks soft and furry. But remember what I said: DO NOT TOUCH IT!

What you don't see beneath that furry little exterior are the sharp, hollow spines attached to little poison glands in the body. Break one of those hidden spines and you'll know it - instantly. It will burn and hurt. In some very sensitive individuals it can cause severe reactions. And it doesn't take much to break one of the spines. Years ago one of these critters fell out of a tree and brushed against Mr. Swamp's arm. He described the sensation as like having acid sprayed on him.

So what is this little marvel? It is one of the stinging caterpillars (also called urticating caterpillars).



Fuzzy wuzzy with a punch. Do NOT touch!!


Megalopyge operularis - Puss Caterpillar, the larval form of the Southern Flannel Moth.

10 comments:

cookie jill said...

And here I thought it was an Ewok baby....

Watchmania said...

Cookie Jill said it - it looks like a wee Wookie. But it's not. It's like those killer teddy bears ...

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Tune in tonight for, "When Dryer Lint Goes Bad"

Rurality said...

Oh those fuzzy wuzzies look so cute. I haven't seen one of those but had a yellow fuzzy the other day.

You must submit this to Circus of the Spineless! http://invertebrates.blogspot.com

Moon said...

How wonderful and varied the earths creatures are made...I would love to make a shawl in the colors of this wonderous little find of yours.. ;0)
Nemaste,
Moon

swamp4me said...

Rurality, I read the rules for posting to Circus of the Spineless and I'm not sure I meet the criteria...I'll just hang out here in the swamp :)

Welcome, Witch! I'm glad you stopped by.

Bloggy, Dryer Lint really did go bad this past weekend up in VA. A dryer caught fire due to a build-up of lint -- clean those hoses people!!

cookie jill and SGJ, it kills me that I can't hold this little guy. He is so darn cute. But you're right, SGJ, he is definitely one of those killer teddy bears...

lené said...

They are cute little things. :)

Wayne said...

Very nice photograph! There aren't a whole lot of stinging caterpillars but I've tried to come up with a list that I'll have to post sometime.

I've noticed that when I brush redbuds in the late summer that I can get a good sting on occasion.

Clare said...

Another cool insect... and it reminds me of a time we were in Ecuador in the Amazon. I saw a caterpillar that looked for all the world like a dandylion puff, and casually plucked the leaf it was on to show the guide and the others. I'll never forget his exact words - "Zowie! Those really, really, really, REALLY hurt. Hey everyone, come look at this".

What a wonder filled world we live in.

Cindy M. said...

what a great find- I've touched a few caterpillars I shouldn't have and didn't make the same mistake twice, they really pack a whollop :)