Beware The Caterpillar With A Fur Coat

“The scars of others should teach us caution.” ~ St. Jerome

Every year about this time, there’s an abundance of furry little caterpillars racing to and fro, crossing roads, sidewalks, seemingly lost and confused. (They’re not.) I swerve to miss them with my bike or car (of course!) and hasten them off certain death from stomping feet where I can easily do so. I’m not a squisher–I’m a saver. It’s the least I can do.

But I never touch the guy with the fur coat; I’ve heard the stories and learned from my elders.

The hairier variety come in all colors from black to black-and-brown, to banded black, to yellow or yellow-orange. Woolybears are simply baby moths who grow up to be some specie of Tiger Moth, in general.

These ‘eye-lashy’ guys are harmless to the touch.

Yellow Woolybear
aka Virginian Tiger Moth

More Spikey Than Hairy
aka Gulf Fritillary

Henry's Marsh Moth Caterpillar

Salt Marsh Caterpillar

As a general rule, I endeavor not to directly touch (with my finger) any caterpillar anyway. Not for my protection, the bacteria on my skin could mean certain death for a little guy who’s never adapted to it. It’s one thing to let an animal crawl upon you, willingly, with its feet, on its own volition; it’s decidedly impolite to get others sick.

Tee hee! Tickly.

Caterpillars are not meant to be ‘pet.’ And there is one caterpillar that will teach kids that lesson all by its little furry self. This time of year in the Houston area, the puss caterpillar–old timers call them ‘asps’–is busy ruining camping and picnics and playgrounds wherever oak trees might be (that’s his host). He’s practically begging to be pet.

I mean, how could you wear such a soft fur coat and not want to be stroked? DON’T!!

Puss Caterpillar
Touch Me and I’ll Hurt You.
aka ‘Asp,’ Southern Flannel Moth

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14 thoughts on “Beware The Caterpillar With A Fur Coat

  1. I love caterpillars, Shannon, and I am sometimes tempted to hold a finger next to one to see if it wants to crawl on it. A quick search for the last one tells me that I should not have to worry about encountering this furry fellow in Colorado.


    1. Be glad you’ve never been ‘hit’ by one. Like miniature porcupines, their stinging hairs keep on firing pain receptors attached on the other end. It’s the painful gift that keeps on giving, perhaps all the way to the hospital. (Read comment below!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved seeing the salt marsh caterpillar, and the fritillary. I only recently learned that the fritillary enjoys passionvine, so I’ll know where to look next year.

    As for the asp? I know a woman who landed in ICU in Galveston after a serious encounter. I only brushed against one with my arm, and it was enough. That’s when I learned they don’t ‘bite’, but are covered in little hypodermic needles. The pain was excruciating, and numbed my arm from shoulder to wrist. It took forever to get over it.

    They were roaming the area where I parked my car, which happened to be near some young live oaks. Once I learned where they preferred to set up shop, I changed my parking routine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re not the first one to tell a woeful story about being ‘hit’ by one of these guys. They are more like porcupines than furry puppies. Look only with your eyes! The picture I took was on our tent as I was taking it down. I had to be careful to shake them off before I rolled it up. I hope you’re loving this cold snap like I am, Linda. Dear Summer, don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. While I like the change from hot and humid, I must confess I’m not looking forward to working in the cold. Yesterday I had an excuse, since it was raining. Today? Not so much!


  3. Loved this furry caterpillar post, Shannon. I have never heard of or seen a puss caterpillar, but am glad to know not to touch it. Each caterpillar is so different, and of course, magical little transformations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jet! They are predominantly where the Live Oaks are, so be careful when you’re in such a canopy when they are getting ready to metamorphose. They crawl everywhere.

      ‘Magical little transformations.’ Perfect. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have never seen a puss Caterpillar in person but I know they are in TX and not to touch them. I appreciate nature and respect it. Thanks for the lesson though. Always learn something new! 😉


    1. Hi Courtney! Glad you’ve never had an ‘experience’ with one of these guys. Read one of the other comments .. he really is more like a porcupine than an insect. This post was for all my classes at the elementary school where I volunteer; they read my blog too!

      Liked by 1 person

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