Subject: Caterpiller with a nasty sting
Location: Mindo Ecuador
April 3, 2015 5:09 pm
Bugman, check out this beauty found while cutting some brush in Mindo, Ecuador. It left some of its fine hairs behind on the branch it was knocked off of. The local guy I hired to help me told me to watch out for these falling on your head when battling the thicket: a sting from this will put you in the house all day with a fever and intense pain. I didn’t test his claim for myself but I did manage to get these pictures.
This really is a beautiful caterpillar, and it is a wonderful choice to celebrate the 20,000th posting on our site, quite a milestone that fills our tiny staff with immense pride. At first we thought this must be a Stinging Slug Caterpillar in the family Limacodidae because of its resemblance to a Monkey Slug from North America, but our search eventually brought up an image of a Puss Moth Caterpillar (Oruga de Polilla Gato) in the family Megalopyge on FlickR where it states: “The’hairs’ are very urticant and touching them produces strong reactions that may include hospitalization”. Puss Moth Caterpillars from North America are also stinging caterpillars that are commonly called Flannel Moth Caterpillars or Asps. We then tried searching the Monkey Slug genus Phobetron and found an individual from Suriname posted on Flickr, and after careful consideration, we cannot say for certain in which family your caterpillar should be classified, but we are leaning towards the family Megalopyge. We then found an excellent image by Andreas Kay matching your caterpillar on FlickR, but alas, it is only identified as a Stinging Flannel Moth Caterpillar in the family Megalopygidae. The best visual match we located was taken by Shirley Sekarajasingham and posted to FlickR, but again, it is only identified to the family level. Perhaps one of our readers would like to continue searching for a genus or species match for our 20,000th posting.