Is there an entomologist in the house?


I got a request to help identify this bizarre creature. I’m guessing it’s a slug caterpillar, from the family Limacodidae, although I couldn’t possibly narrow it down further, and could be completely wrong. Whoever was filming it can be heard telling someone not to touch it—which is a good idea. These things shed fine hairs that can cause a painful allergic rash.

It’s kind of cute, anyway.

I think the collective wisdom of the internets has convinced me that it is a puss caterpillar, Megalopyge opercularis.


  1. says

    It looks like something from the Burgess Shale!

    Thus completely disproving evolution, ya know. (wink)

    “Slug caterpillars bear little resemblance to the typical caterpillar. The head is hidden within the thorax; thoracic legs are reduced; and prolegs are modified to sucker-like lobes without crochets. Movement is slow, gliding, slug-like. Most species tend to be solitary feeders… Several species of slug caterpillars possess urticating setae or spines.”

    Photos of slug caterpillars and others are here but nothing that looks quite like the image — perhaps Photo 7 or the Flannel Moth?

    “stinging caterpillars bear specialized nettling or urticaceous setae or spines. These structures are hollow and contain toxins from poison-gland cells to which they are joined. These are primarily defensive structures for protection of caterpillars from predators and other enemies. The sting inflicted on humans is not from a deliberate attack by the caterpillar, but the result of contact, usually inadvertent, with toxin-bearing setae or spines. When brushed against, these structures break away, releasing toxins. In some cases, broken setae may penetrate the skin; in others, toxins spill out to spread on the surface of the skin.”

  2. Rachel says

    It’s the brown morph of the puss caterpillar, Megalopyge opercularis, family Megalopygidae. The adult is known as the Southern Flannel Moth due to it’s dense hair covering. Most of the time, they are blonder, but brown and even white morphs are not unknown.

  3. says

    I thought you made up the name slug caterpillar, because if I were asked to name it, slug caterpillar is probably what I would come up with. Maybe “slugerpillar.”

  4. craig says

    It appears that the video was originally posted here:

    and that the person whose house it was at is commenting, saying they were told it was a puss caterpillar.

    They also say “This is a caterpillar that Andrew found on the patio. When you touch it, it rolls up into a ball. He says it is a “Puss” caterpillar. Our God is astounding in the variety he put into creation.

    Sheesh. Of course, their user name contains the word Miami, so it’s not surprising – there’s an epidemic of fundies down here.

  5. says

    In the words of a friend of mine: “This is probably a Megalopyge opercularis larva, which will fuck you right up if you touch it. All those cute fuzzy hairs are hollow and filled with venom. Don’t touch these, ever.”

  6. Swintah says

    Too bad it’s poisonous – ’cause it would be the cutest pet EVAR!1!

    Our God is astounding in the variety he put into creation.

    It’s totally within “God’s” character to make something absolutely adoreable and pet-worthy, yet dangerous. e.g. Baby albino cobras, bear cubs, ewoks, etc.

  7. Guhru says

    This is the greatest discovery of all times! Consider the fact that puss caterpillar evolved to resemble cute tiny fluffy Persian cat. This makes people instantly want to pick it up and pet it. Now consider the fact that it is one of the most dangerous caterpillars. How possibly could something so ironic and bizarre evolve by itself? This is not only the ultimate proof for existence of intelligent designer but at the same time it sheds so much light on his nature!

  8. Evan Murdock says

    Yesterday I never would have thought I could read, and take seriously, the phrase “it is one of the most dangerous caterpillars”

    Just saying.

    Sure is cute.

  9. says

    Aint’ nature great? Having lived in south Florida much of my life, I saw way too many of these “cute” critters. It’s almost as if they’re designed to be touched, with that furry-appearing surface. This is not a Puss to play with.