PEST PROFILES: MOTH AND BUTTERFLY CATERPILLARS
Click on image to view larger. Puss caterpillar, asp or flannel moths
Puss caterpillars are completely covered with long, silken, brownish hairs. Hidden among the hairs are short, poisonous spines. The head and legs are not visible from above. Adults are rarely encountered. Many hairy or spiny caterpillars may produce a skin irritation, and care should be taken to avoid contact with them.
The poisonous hairs or spines are hollow and connected to underlying poison glands. Contact with these causes a burning sensation and inflammation that can be as painful as a bee sting. The irritation may last for 1 or 2 days and may be accompanied by nausea during the first few hours. Usually the contact site reddens and swells much like a bee sting. Larvae feed on leaves of many shrubs and bushes, such as hollies.
Overwinters as pupae in a cocoon. Adults emerge in late spring or early summer and oviposit eggs on plant leaves. Tiny whitish, fuzzy larvae hatch from eggs and develop through several instars over a period of many weeks before pupation.