Southern Flannel Moth Facts
- While it remains better known for its larval form, the Southern Flannel nevertheless ranks as an extremely beautiful, if not commonly know, variety of moth.
- While its beauty makes one want to pet it, doing so provides a rather unpleasant experience. The lovely fur conceals numerous spines containing a toxin that produces extremely unpleasant effects.
- The larval form possesses a voracious appetite, which causes farmers and horticulturists alike to usually consider it to be a highly destructive species.
Southern Flannel Moth Physical Description
The controversial Southern Flannel Moth ranks as a rather small type of moth. Sexual dimorphism also presents itself in the species, with females being slightly larger than males. Males typically attain a wingspan of 1 in (2.4 cm) while females usually have a wingspan of 1.5 in (3.6 cm).
The fur varies significantly in color, yet yellow predominates with shades of brown and black mixed in as well. Concealed within that fur, however, a number of spines contain a powerful toxin.
The short legs usually display large quantities of small hairs, and the feet display a dark black color.
Species: M. opercularis
Southern Flannel Moth Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The gorgeous yet dangerous Southern Flannel Moth inhabits a specific portion of the United States, in North America. It inhabits a range that extends from New Jersey to Florida and then west to Arkansas and Texas. It also appears in parts of Mexico and Central America. The greatest concentration occurs in western and central Texas.
For its habitat, the lovely Lepidoptera primarily prefers various trees, such as elms, wild plum, and oaks. Yet it also frequently occurs on garden plants such as ivy and rose bushes.
This moth usually has two broods per year, but occasionally has three, depending on its exact location and local climate. Mating typically happens on the first night of emergence from the cocoon. Eggs commonly get laid on various twigs and leaves.
The larvae feed on a wide variety of plants, but most commonly on citrus, oak, and elms trees. The spines contain a powerful toxin used for self-defense. Upon exposure to human skin, a reaction is almost instantaneous. Symptoms include burning, swelling, headache, nausea, rashes, blisters, and sometimes chest pain, numbness, or difficulty breathing.