Fun Southern Flannel Moth Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 19, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi
Fun Southern Flannel Moth Facts For Kids
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

Do you want to learn interesting facts about a particular golden moth? In this article, you will learn about the intriguing southern flannel moth.

Found across the United States of America, particularly in the south-eastern part of the country, the southern flannel moth is a small moth of the genus Megalopyge.

Found in regions from New Jersey to Florida, Mexico, and parts of Central America, the golden moth is a harmless animal with a short life span. The adult moths are covered in golden hairs, with yellow and black wings, two white antennae, and teeth on both sides of their antennae.

The caterpillars, often known as puss caterpillars or asp caterpillars, are about 1.5 in (3.81 cm) in length and covered in fur-like hairs that taper at the end to form a tail.

Although they can appear harmless or even cute from a distance, these hairs contain venom, which is released when they are touched. The stings of the caterpillars can cause redness and swelling, and in some cases can result in such serious pain in the limbs, that it even requires medical aid.

The adults and caterpillars feed on leaves of deciduous trees and garden plants.

Adults brood two or three times a year and lay eggs on leaves and twigs, and cover them with hair to keep their babies safe.

In the early stages, the caterpillars often move from tree to tree looking for new leaves to feed on. This movement takes place before the cocoons are formed.

The caterpillars go through multiple molts inside the cocoon, before it finally breaks and the adult moths emerge out of their shells.

Read on to learn more about this amazing species, and if you like this article then check out Hercules beetle facts and wolf spider facts.

Southern Flannel Moth Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Southern Flannel Moth?

Southern flannel moths are a small golden-yellow species, found mainly across the south-eastern United States. They are best known for their larva, the puss caterpillar.

What class of animal does a Southern Flannel Moth belong to?

A southern flannel moth belongs to the class Insecta of the animal kingdom.

How many Southern Flannel Moths are there in the world?

Among all the five species of Megalopygids found in the south-eastern United States, these moths are the most common. However, the exact number of them currently living in the world cannot be ascertained.

Where does a Southern Flannel Moth live?

The southern flannel moth, Megalopyge opercularis, is found across the south-eastern United States. They are seen in places from New Jersey to Florida, Mexico, parts of Central America, and Texas. A large number of these moths are spotted in Florida and Texas.

What is a Southern Flannel Moth's habitat?

This moth species feeds on the leaves of oak and elm trees and garden plants. Since these trees are common in parks, gardens, and backyards the adult moths or puss caterpillars are commonly found in these places. The larvae of these animals, the puss caterpillars, stay on tree leaves or twigs and often crawl from one tree to another.

Who do Southern Flannel Moths live with?

Not much research is available on who these moths live with.

How long does a Southern Flannel Moth live?

Hardly any research is availableon the lifespan of the southern flannel moth. However, we can assume that like most moths, these insects have a short life span.

How do they reproduce?

The southern flannel moth, Megalopyge opercularis, breeds twice or thrice a year. The females lay their eggs, which are about 1.2 mm in length and 0.6mm in breadth, and pale yellow in color on the two consecutive nights following their mating.

The females lay them on foliage or twigs and cover them with hairs from their lower abdominal region.

The young ones hatch in roughly eight days. The larvae are able to feed on different food items and can be seen crawling from the host plant to a different plant.

What is their conservation status?

The moths are commonly seen in the south-eastern United States. However, their conservation status is Not Listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List.

Southern Flannel Moth Fun Facts

What do Southern Flannel Moths look like?

Fun Southern Flannel Moth Facts For Kids

The female adult southern flannel moth is larger than the male. They are attractive animals that range in color from orange to golden yellow and their skin is completely covered in thick fur-like hairs.

The wings range in size between 1 - 1.5 in (2.4 and 3.6 cm). Their yellowish wings have black margins and white hair-like setae on the basal part. These hair-like setae are deeply divided scales.

The white comb-like antennae have black tips and teeth on both sides. The teeth in females are considerably shorter as compared to the males of the species. Adults have a wingspan of 0.94-1.41 in (2.4-3.6 cm).

Their thick hairy bodies are the reason why they are called flannel moths. The thorax region is full of orange hair.

How cute are they?

The cuteness of these moths stems from their tiny body and golden appearance.

How do they communicate?

Not much research is available on this topic. However, since they are moths, we can assume that they communicate the same way as most moths do. One way of communicating can be by the release of pheromones.

The pheromones released by females are easily detected by males. This helps them to locate mates before the breeding season. They also use their hearing ability to stay out of the reach of their predators.

How big is a Southern Flannel Moth?

The tiny golden insects range in size between 0.94-1.41 in (24-36 mm).

They are more than twice the size of the white flannel moths which range from 0.4 to 0.6 in (11-17 mm) in length.

How fast can a Southern Flannel Moth fly?

Not much information is available on how fast the southern flannel moth flies. However, since they are members of the moth family, we can assume that they fly at about a speed of 55 miles per hour like most other moths.

How much does a Southern Flannel Moth weigh?

The exact weight of the Megalopyge opercularis is not listed. These are, however, small animals with tiny wings and bodies covered in hair-like fur.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the species do not have distinct names.

What would you call a baby Southern Flannel Moth?

The babies are often referred to as caterpillars.

What do they eat?

Golden moths are herbivores by nature. The adults, as well as the puss caterpillars, feed on leaf foliage of oaks, elms, citrus trees, and garden plants like roses.

Are they poisonous?

The adults of the species do not sting. However, the southern flannel moth caterpillar sting can be very painful. Though the stings are non-fatal, they can result in redness, swelling, and grueling pain.

The long yellow hairs covering their body releases venom when they are touched. The pain can be so immense that it might need medical attention. This powerful sting is often compared to a snake bite and this is why the caterpillar is also called an asp caterpillar.

Would they make a good pet?

The southern flannel moth caterpillars, Megalopyge opercularis, are capable of delivering a powerful sting if they feel threatened by another species. So, it is advisable to keep children away from these tiny animals. The adults, however, do not sting and can be kept as pets.

Did you know...

The caterpillar, of this species, Megalopyge opercularis, is given the name puss caterpillar owing to the cat-like fur covering its body.

What is the difference between a Southern Flannel Moth and a regular moth?

The southern flannel moth caterpillars can be dangerous in their larval stage. Although they do not actively attack other species, the thick hairs covering their bodies can break on contact and release venom if they feel threatened. Also, unlike most caterpillars who have five pairs of prolegs, these hairy caterpillars have seven pairs of prolegs.

What is a Southern Flannel Moth caterpillar?

The southern flannel moth caterpillar is about 1.5 in (3.81 cm) in length. The yellowish hairs covering their bodies are capable of releasing venom. These caterpillars eat the leaves of deciduous plants and shrubs.  The cocoon of the larvae is 0.51-0.78 in (1.3-2 cm). The cocoons are not woven but separate from the hairs to keep the larvae safe.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including purple emperor butterfly facts and click beetle facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable southern flannel moth coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi

Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Oluwapelumi Iwayemi picture

Oluwapelumi IwayemiBachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Iwayemi is a creative content writer and editor studying for a Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos. He is skilled in research and has experience writing and editing content for different organizations.

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