WTB Saves Our Vacation!

Stinging Flannel Moth Caterpillar

WTB Saves Our Vacation!
September 23, 2010
Hello Daniel,
(I’ve tried to send this note before, so ignore it if you’ve received an earlier version.)
In February of this year, my wife and I visited Isla Mujeres, an island just off Cancun.  I was thrilled when my wife discovered a caterpillar on the Sea Grape hedge near our hotel.  But something about it seemed familiar, and threatening.
Sure enough, I was recalling a WTB post a year earlier, February 2009, filled with frightening infomation about this exact species of Flannel Moth caterpillar, on the very same island!
As your fans start dreaming of a vacation in the tropics, I’d like to caution them to be wary of critters they don’t know.  My wife wanted to touch this caterpillar, and that could have been real trouble.  (I did let her lightly brush her fingers over the ends of the long hairs, but not the nasty shorter bristles.)
Sea Grape is a beautiful and very common shrub/tree there, and is frequently used in landscaping.  The local hotel staff doesn’t warn guests, and the caterpillars are attractive, at least to bug-nuts like me and my wife.
The caterpillars were in the later stages of development when we were there in mid-February, and some were spinning their cocoons.  It may be that there are several generations in the course of a year, so be on guard whenever you’re there.  They are wonderful subjects for photos, and they’re not going to attack you.  It’s look-but-don’t-touch.
Thank you WTB for your excellent work, and for saving our vacation!
Don J. Dinndorf
St. Augusta, MN

Stinging Flannel Moth Caterpillar

Dear Don,
We did not receive your previous emails, or we overlooked them, so we are very happy you resent.  We are also pleased to hear our humble service was able to contribute to your pleasant vacation.  The stinging Mexican Flannel Moth Caterpillar in the genus
Megalopyge, which has been documented on our website in the past, might be one of the worst stinging caterpillars in the world.  Your excellent photos are greatly appreciated and we hope we are able to help other tourists to Mexico and Central America with this information.

Stinging Flannel Moth Caterpillar spins cocoon

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