Megalopyge lanata - Puss Caterpillar (Stoll, 1780)
Lepidoptera: Apoditrysia: Zygaenoidea: Megalopygidae: Megalopyginae
Larval length: up to 55mm.
Wingspan: ♀ ~70 - 85mm / ♂ ~50mm.
Date: 4th of July, 2017 at 11:21:18am.
Location: Brazil, Santa Catarina, Benedito Novo (Lat: -26.83, Long: -49.27999999999997, Accuracy in meters: 80.99765660274748)
This is a caterpillar belonging to the order Lepidoptera, subdivision Apoditrysia, superfamily Zygaenoidea, family Megalopygidae and subfamily Megalopyginae.
Offsprings stay close to each other until they reach the next developmental stage. Their bristled hairs emit toxins upon pressure and will cause damage to the skin, including but not limited to purulent bubbles. Treatment is made with - among other methods - ice packs and antihistamines. Nevertheless, accidents with this species very rarely (or never) end in death and the symptoms can be remedied with ease unless the subject affected is allergic, a situation that can occur with pretty much any toxin, even a bee sting, and even then these situations are not always fatal. I purposedly burned myself with the toxin and suffered an intense allergic reaction but never went to the hospital and am alive. The caterpillars are not aggressive and will NEVER attack anyone; the toxin is a defensive and passive mechanism - Just respect and all is fine.
The larva feeds on Persea americana, Coffea arabica, Psidium guajava, Mangifera indica, Prunus persica, Pyrus communis, Rosa sp., Citrus sp. and Hura crepitans, with the possibility of more hosts existing given their polyphytophagou nature. The hairs are brownish and the body has an overall dorsal whitish coloring and red bumps on the laterals of each segment. The ventral surface is reddish-brown with reddish bumps. Each segment is separated by a black part. Head retractable. Right above and below each stigma there are hairs which are inserted above the spiracles are planted on protuberances, possessing less saturarion than the others.
They undergo around 7 molts and measure from 50 to 55mm in length, but this information is controversial. Larval phase is relatively extended with a stage consisting of a period of free life and a stage of sheltering which is considered a pre-nymphal stage. Nymphal stage is short and the adult phase reduced. Egg incubation time unknown to me, but registered at around 15 days. On the host plant the caterpillar searches for a suitable place to make the cocoon, consisting of a large chunk of their life. The cocoon is made of protective, strong structures. The structure is silvery. Over this primary surface the caterpillar builds a secondary structure with brownish, globular, relatively thick strings. The cocoon is finally attached to a surface (like trunks) and is very hard to remove without the aid of a cutting object which will probably damage it. After the fourth day the tissue adherence inside the cocoon makes for impossible or semi-impossible sight of the insides. The cocoon is able to protect the individual with efficiency.
According to a study sourced below, adult males always eclosed in less numbers from the groups randomly collected with an approximate relation of 1 : 2. Males differ considerably from females; antennae are strongly bipectinate and featherish on males, while the antennae of females are ciliated. The antennae of females are more delicate. Females of M. lanata can have a wingspan between 70 and 85mm and are always more robust than males, which have a wingspan of approximately 50mm. Females have more hairs than males. The forewings of the females are entirely covered by an abundant black pubescence. Sexual dichromism present; males exhibit more abundant pinkish shades than females, which colors are predominantly dark except for the wings. The wings of both males and females are more or less similarly colored. The female's superior part of the thorax and abdomen is blackish, while males exhibit abundantly ornamented pinkish colors in those areas. Female's abdominal extremity is covered in cream-colored hairs. Males's abdominal extremity also have cream-colored hairs but the area in which those occur is significantly smaller. The superior part of the abdomen of adults of M. lanata is ornamented by alternating black and pink bands until the meeting point of the terminal cream-colored zone. Males possess large pink bands, larger than the black bands.
Females seem to be more calm than males after ecloding; probably relationed with the conservational instinct of the species.
Phorocera platensis and Zygozenilla sp. (possibly and ex-genus? Requires confirmation) seem to parasitize M. lanata.
As a protective measure against attacks and environmental threats, the eggs are laid on a wall or trunk in short rows and covered in cream-colored setae from the apex of the female abdomen; stray black hair might also be present from other parts of the female's body. This helps the species develop.
Ovipositioning can last several days and 290+ eggs can be laid. The eggs are full of vitelus.
http://www.agrolink.com.br/problemas/lagarta-de-fogo_486.html - only filter good things in these websites, as I've never seen one that provides beneficial informations to nature.
http://www.defesavegetal.net/megala - only filter good things in these websites, as I've never seen one that provides beneficial informations to nature.
http://www.infobibos.com/artigos/2008_3/taturanas/index.htm - Read the end as well by translation.
''Megalopyge lanata'' is a moth of the family Megalopygidae. It was described by Caspar Stoll in 1780.