(JE Smith, 1797)
There is one generation a year in the north, but two or more in the southern United States.
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The larva is distinctive, with no close analogues although it may be mistaken for the shed skin of a hairy spider or leaf debris. It has six pairs of curly projections, three long and three short from the flattened body, each densely covered in hairs. According to David L. Wagner, who experimented on himself, the hairs do not sting, contrary to popular belief. However, susceptibility can vary among humans and it may produce a reaction in some people. Some members of the family Limacodidae do sting. Like all limacodids, the legs are shortened and the prolegs are reduced to suction cups. The "arms" can fall off without harming the caterpillar. Maximum length of larvae, 2.5 cm.
It is solitary and is not a very significant agricultural threat, but it is a common sight in orchards.
Pupates in a cup-shaped coccon with a circular escape hatch.
The adult moth has a wingspan of up to 3 cm. The male has translucent wings, and the female is drab brown and gray, with yellow puffs on her legs. The day-flying female is said to mimic a bee, complete with pollen sacs, and the male mimics a wasp.
- Wagner, DL, 2005. Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press.
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