Phobetron pithecium

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Phobetron pithecium
Phobetron pithecium larva.jpg
- 4677 – Phobetron pithecium – Hag (Monkey Slug) Moth (Limacodidae - Slug Caterpillar Moths).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Limacodidae
Genus: Phobetron
Species: P. pithecium
Binomial name
Phobetron pithecium
(JE Smith, 1797)

Phobetron pithecium, the hag moth, is a moth of the family Limacodidae. Its larva is known as the monkey slug.


One generation a year occurs in the north, but two or more happen in the southern United States.[1]


Larva, Michigan, mid-August
Underside of larva, showing reduced legs

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 is 2.5 cm.[1]

It is solitary and is not a very significant agricultural threat, but it is a common sight in orchards.


This species pupates in a cup-shaped coccon with a circular escape hatch.


The adult moth has a wingspan 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.[1]

Food plants[edit]

Larvae eat a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs, such as apple, ash, birch, cherry, chestnut, dogwood, hickory, oak, persimmon, walnut, and willow.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Wagner, DL, 2005. Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press.

External links[edit]