The Venomous Donald Trump Caterpillar: Megalopyge Opercularis

On July 16, 2015 by Tim Newman

Megalopyge opercularis - Venomous Caterpillar

Megalopyge opercularis, is variously known as the southern flannel moth, puss moth, opossum bug, puss caterpillar, tree asp, the asp caterpillar and the “Donald Trump” caterpillar. It’s such an odd creature that even Wikipedia has a hard time keeping a straight face when describing it:

“The inch-long larva is generously coated in long, luxuriant hair-like setae, making it resemble a tiny Persian cat.”


“The middle instar [life stage] has a more dishevelled, ‘bad-hair-day’ appearance.”

It’s easy to see why people would get carried away describing this funny looking thing. The hairs that coat the puss caterpillar have been likened to Donald Trump’s wig, which seems a little harsh on the caterpillar. It’s important that we don’t tar this creature with the same dirty, sticky stick.

Megalopyge opercularis lives in the southern United States and parts of Central America. If you do come across one though, don’t be fooled by its friendly, comedy appearance. Those hair-like protrusions are not for stroking. They contain venomous spines. Sneaky little gits.

Megalopyge opercularis - Puss Caterpillar

If you’re lucky, the itching, swelling and discomfort will be localised, but that’s not generally the case. The irritation can spread the length of the limbs causing burning, swelling, nausea, headache, abdominal distress, rashes, blisters, and sometimes chest pain, numbness and difficulty breathing. (Similar to the side effects caused by Trump’s recent victory in the majority of humans).

On stroking a puss caterpillar, the hairs break off and get lodged in the skin:

“Within hours a clear pattern of hemorrhagic papules will arise, usually lasting for several days; lymphadenopathy and swelling may develop.”

Here are some examples of puss caterpillar injuries. They leave a very strange grid like marking:

Puss Moth Photos Of Poison Attack

I guess if people kept on likening me to an idiot’s hair-piece I’d want to inflict some damage too. Here are some genuine quotes from people who have been at the wrong end of one of these puss caterpillars:

“…it felt as though my arm had been broken.”

“…it immediately felt like a hammer hit me.”

“…I have had kidney stones before, but I believe the pain I am experiencing from the asp sting is worse.”

So, it’s no joke by the sounds of things. To make matters worse, there are no official ways to relieve the pain or symptoms. Some sufferers have applied Sellotape to the wound and then repeatedly pulled it off to remove the embedded spines, others have used oral antihistamines to ease the swelling, but nothing is particularly succesful.

Megalopyge opercularis is found on oak, citrus and elm trees, so if you (or your stupid inquisitive child) sees a hairy patch on one of those trees – don’t stroke it. There are hundreds of puss caterpillar incidents in the southern states every year, on occasion, schools in Texas are closed due to infestations.

Rather than build a cocoon like a normal caterpillar, these guys just use their fur as protection and shed it after metamorphosis has finished its charming work. The adult puss moth is almost as impressive and showy as its hirsute progenitor.

Here are some images of the weirdo:

Modified by CombineZP Megalopyge opercularis - Puss Caterpillar - Wig Like Megalopyge opercularis - Hairy Caterpillar Megalopyge opercularis - Flanel Caterpillar Megalopyge opercularis - Flanel Caterpillar At Night Megalopyge opercularis - Donald Trump Megalopyge opercularis - Adult Moth Megalopyge opercularis - Adult Asp Moth






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