Currently viewing the category: "Asps and Flannel Moth Caterpillars"

Small, pea-soup green, hairy critter
Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 2:27 PM
See the photos
Gulf south (USA)



Dear Curious,
This is a Southern Flannel Moth Caterpillar, Megalopyge opercularis.  It is sometimes called an Asp and it stings.



Cocoon popped up found suddenly
Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 8:24 AM
I was working in my yard and clearing out my shed throwing things away mostly, in a trash can I keep in the backyard. I used the trash can about every 20 mins. One trip to the trash can, there was nothing on the lid of the trash can. On the next trip was this (presumably) cocoon. I lightly touched it and something inside moved once, from left to right. I brought the lid into my garage where I could watch cocoon and protect it from a cold front due in that night.
About 36 hrs later the cocoon (or whatever) moved from it’s original spot and left part of it’s body (?) behind which is shown in the photos.
The insect is about 2 cm long and about 1 cm wide.
Thank you for your time and your’s GREAT
South Central Texas

Asp freshly molted

Asp freshly molted

Hi Terry,
This is an Asp, a stinging caterpillar of the Puss Moth.  It is freshly molted.  You are lucky you were not stung as it is reported to be quite painful.

3 bug pix 4 you…pictures for you
I took these pics of a small creature , approximately 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch in length, on August 22, 2004. It was residing on my front screen door about 4 feet above the porch. It was not moving at the time . I do not know what happened to it. Our house is located in Lawrenceville, in north central Georgia,USA. I have no idea what it actually is , so I decided to call it a “Tribble” after a creature in a famous “Star Trek” episode. Can you tell me what kind of creature it is ? Thanks,
Ferd R Hall

Hi Ferd,
This is actually a stinging caterpillar known in the south as an Asp. It is the caterpillar of the Southern Flannel Moth, Megalopyge opercularis, and the caterpillar is also called the Puss Caterpillar because of its resemblance to a cat. We love your comparison to the Tribbles, and that observation may help other readers with their identification. The sting of the Asp is reportedly quite painful.

Caterpillar from French Guiana
Good morning,
I am curious about the possible ID of this beautiful hair-piece. It was photographed in French Guiana in the 1980s. Sorry, the scan of the slide is less than perfect.
Christian Feuillet

Hi Christian,
Sadly, despite Maria Sybilla Merian’s groundbreaking work on caterpillar metamorphosis of Amazon Lepidoptera at the end of the 16th Century, much of the insect life in the rain forest remains unknown, little studied, and assuredly never seen by non-natives. We believe this is some species of Flannel Moth Caterpillar in the family Megalopygidae. Flannel Moth Caterpillars, known as Puss Moths or Asps in parts of the southern USA, have stinging hairs that discharge venom. The sting of a Puss Moth caterpillar is considered by the Ohio State University FactSheet website on Stinging Caterpillars to be: “the most severe of all the stinging caterpillars.”

Panama caterpillar
This beautiful creature was photographed at Coiba National Preserve in Panama, December 11, 2007, feasting on the leaves of a cashew tree. I’ve been searching the web for two days and have had no luck identifying it, except that it’s probably of the Arctiidae family. Can you help?
Amy Lowell
White Lake, MI

Hi Amy,
We cannot currently help you with an identification, but we will post your image in the hopes that our readership can assist. Identification of many tropical species can prove very frustrating.

Update: (04/07/2008)
Thanks Dan. The caterpillar is Megalopyge lanata. The following information is courtesy of Annette Aiello: “The caterpillar is a clear case of Megalopyge lanata (Megalopygidae). Perhaps the unnatural perspective (the photo appears to have been taken in portrait view and later rotated to horizontal) made it look to you as if there were more than the usual red verrucae. As well, I suspect that the caterpillar had molted very recently and perhaps had not yet eaten very much, so still was somewhat condensed.” If you’ve posted the photo already, you can add its identification. I appreciate your help very much
Amy Lowell

Thanks for the update Amy. We found images of the adult Megalopyge lanata after you provided us with a name. We also located a caterpillar image on a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Photo of the Week website. The caterpillar has stinging hairs.

white flannel moth caterpillar
I believe we found a White Flannel Moth Caterpillar while hiking the Cumberland Trail near Crossville, TN. One of our group got a bit of a sting when brushing past this colorful caterpillar. I would like to confirm the ID if possible.

Hi Millette,
You are absolutely correct. This is a White Flannel Moth Caterpillar,
Norape ovina, and the sting is quite painful.