Slug Moth Caterpillar!
If it looks dangerous, it probably is.
This little guy, about 1/2 an inch long, was hiding on a branch of one of our ninebark shrubs today. He is such a cacophony of features, I didn't know where to begin to identify him. Discover Life, unfortunately, was no help. They still have only about 175 species of caterpillar listed in their databases. My thanks to the Google machine and the University of Missouri--between the two of them, "small green caterpillar with spiny knobs" became enough of a description to find the Spiny Oak Slug Moth. It doesn't even
good--but wow! What an outfit!
is a stinging caterpillar. Do not touch, unless you just find pain an interesting exercise, in which case don't let me stop you. Wikipedia does say the spines are "mildly" stinging. Host plants include oaks (as you might expect), but many other forest species, as well, such as maple, poplar and sycamore.
I'm curious about the origin of the "slug moth" moniker--the caterpillar is a lot less sluggy-looking than those of say, Prominent butterflies, and the moth is as fuzzy as they get. Anybody who'd like to enlighten me on this would be most appreciated! Do check out the resources for more images (especially BugGuide) so you can see the adorable adult moth.
Huge thanks to the
, without whom I may never have identified this little fellow,
. Those of you contributing images and information to these sites: Kudos!