Saturday, July 17, 2010

White Flannel Moths

These two flashy caterpillars were clinging to the trunk/stump of the little redbud tree that B and D cut down last weekend. The sawdust can be seen clinging to their hairs.


We thought that they were suspect and so did not touch them. I took these pictures.  When B went back to dig up the stump, they were gone.


I sent the pictures to an entomologist at UF for identification, after I was unable to find a match in my guides or on-line. His response was that they are the larvae of white flannel moths (Norape ovina) and they do indeed sting. The hairs (or setae) have poison glands at the base of them that are released when touched or broken. Reactions may vary by person.  These caterpillars feed on a variety of leaves of hardwoods and shrubs, including redbuds. This webpage has pictures of the adult moth.

One time years ago, we were camping at Vogel State Park in the mountains of Georgia, when dozens of these lovely white moths were attracted to our lights. They also liked the light-colored pullover I was wearing and came to rest there. It was one of those magical moments that burn into your memory. I had no idea what they were until now. At least the moths don’t sting as the caterpillars do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love those moths.