fuzzy /fluffy caterpillar ?

greenman62June 16, 2014

what is this, and is it normal for my area ?

looks like some kind of fuzzy caterpillar to me ?

is this the "PUS caterpillar" ??
Megalopyge opercularis

New Orleans Louisiana

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

The photo is too "fuzzy" 8-) but it certainly could be a Puss Moth caterpillar. (I trust you know never to touch them, right?)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 1:06PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Sure doesn't look like a puss caterpillar to me....I've seen lots of them. If you look at images of that caterpillar, you'll see that that's not what you've found.

What size is it, have you found others, does it move, have you examined it? Are you sure that it's even a caterpillar? Could it be an egg sac of some kind?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 3:03PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

The only one I've seen in person was a 1st instar, maybe 1.25" from front fuzz to rear fuzz, fluffy and pure white. This photo might be the one I saw -- but considerably out of focus and with its hair all frazzled and not as clean.

The leaf in greenman62's photo shows how out-of-focus the caterpillar is.

In contrast, the vast majority of the photos I've seen online show later instars: tawny or greige or yellowish-gray, with a sort of upswept-and-greased-50s-rocker hairdo.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:29PM
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greenman62

hmm...
thanks
i have no idea if it is, it was just a guess...

Yes, it did move.
a lot faster than i thought.

My camera got dew in the lens, hadnt had a chance to buy another one yet
i was hoping it would clear up by itself

Here is a video of it below...

Here is a link that might be useful: photobucket.com video

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 11:16PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

greenman62, here are some photos of the larvae of two different flannel moths (scroll down almost 2/3 of the way):

http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/larva.php?plate=02.0&page=3&size=m&sort=h

Some of them look much closer to your photo than any photos of them which I remember seeing before.

The one I saw 4 years ago would have been one of the white Lagoa crispata instars [rhizo_1 will be happy to know that I did not see his Megalopyge opercularis ;-D ]. I'll leave it to you to decide which one yours was.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 1:32AM
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greenman62

hmm...
still not sure.
but, to me, the closest photo i found online is this one, which is Mega O.

http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/Files1/Live/MW/MW4647f.jpg

when i look at most photos online, they are more "combed" in appearance, and some even showing the legs, which i did not see
but, it has a cream color, with a bit of a brown spot on the center of the back
just like the one i had in the photo.
and it seems they are closely related
(Crispa and Opercularis)
and maybe even one or 2 more in the genus
so, it may have been a close relative anyway.
they all sting like hell from what i read.
sometimes lasting for weeks.
real glad it didnt get me.

thanks

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 2:29PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Luckily I didn't touch the one I saw either.

I'd been collecting daylily pods, and had different varieties of seeds stuffed in both pockets, and pods from other daylilies in each hand. I was hoping to get in the house before I forgot which was where ... and there was suddenly such a cute white caterpillar on a daylily leaf, and -- catlover that I am -- I wanted to pet it gently, but didn't have a hand free. And I probably would have figured out a way to free one finger, but I suddenly got a very definite feeling that I shouldn't!

I had read about Puss Moth caterpillars, but didn't remember at the time.

I don't have a photo of the one I saw in 2009, but I looked through Google Images that day, and saved the photo I thought was closest to what I had seen. Obviously I read somewhere that the 1st instar was white, but if that photo had a Latin name attached, I didn't write it down.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 12:01AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Greenman, yours seems to resemble M. crispata more than other puss caterpillars. I've never seen one of those, but only the more common
M. opercularis.

I've also never noticed the moths, which look almost like their larvae, but with long legs and wings.

I've never been stung by one of these, but it is a dangerous insect...the most of any other of the stinging caterpillars. Its other common name is the Asp caterpillar...that should tell us something.

Back in S. Carolina, one of my clients brushed up against the asp and spent the next few hours in the hospital. This was a healthy guy with no allergies to insect venom!

Speaking of stinging caterpillars, I have been stung by a Saddleback Caterpillar. It felt like I had been shot! Incredibly powerful venom.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 7:50AM
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