Cat or Mouse ?

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Tony T
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Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2007 8:08 am

Cat or Mouse ?

Post by Tony T »

No this is not a quiz :twisted: just a follow up to Ken's "Monkey Slugs". Several North American families of moths have caterpillars that have stinging hairs.
Ken's "Monkey Slugs" HERE in the Family: Limacodidae;
Rik's "Sheep Moth" HERE in the Family: Saturniidae;
and this "Flannel Moth" Family: Megalopygidae. These fellows look like mice when straightened out and are about 2-3" long. This one feeding on Lantana. Photographed in Ecuador (1990) but similar, possibly the same, species occurs in the USA. Head to left, in natural position.
Nikon FE2, 200mm MF Micro, SB15 flash, full frame on Kodachrome 64, aperture not recorded.

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Post by rjlittlefield »

Tony, thanks for a good picture of an interesting beast.

I have often wondered how such long, flowing and apparently soft hairs could be so urticating. So I went looking.

The answer, if I'm reading this paper correctly, is that they aren't. Rather, the long soft hairs serve to hide shorter stiffer upright setae that actually deliver the toxin. As of 1997, when the paper was written, "The chemical nature of urticating poisons is not fully known, but some caterpillar glands have been found to contain formic acid or histamine...".

I am also intrigued by the quality of the image itself. Explaining why is off-topic for this gallery posting, so I posted that discussion in Technical instead.


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Post by beetleman »

I remember when I lived in Florida, I was working on my car, I backed into a bush with no shirt on and rubbed against a caterpiller, and I thought I had gotten battery acid on my back it burned so much.
Take Nothing but Pictures--Leave Nothing but Footprints.
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Tony T
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Post by Tony T »

rjlittlefield wrote:Tony, thanks for a good picture......... I am also intrigued by the quality of the image itself. --Rik
Heppner knows what he's talking about.

"Good picture"? so, so, serves its purpose here
"Intrigued by the quality"; me too - lousy :cry:

Ken Ramos
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Post by Ken Ramos »

I found a long hairded caterpillar tha looked somewhat similar in appearance, except the hair was blond or yellowish and was resting on a bunch of honeysuckle. Pretty neat find here Tony :D

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