Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFMegalopygidae Members: 199 NC Records

Megalopyge opercularis (J.E. Smith, 1797) - Southern Flannel Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Zygaenoidea Family: MegalopygidaeP3 Number: 660063.00 MONA Number: 4647.00
Comments: One of three members of this genus in North America, two of which occur in North Carolina
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Both sexes possess a heavy, "furry", pale orange body, with the thorax and the basal tuft of the abdomen ochre-colored rather than the cream-colored found in Lagoa crispata (Forbes, 1923). The broad forewings are ochraceous basally, blending to pale yellow or creamy-white distally, with black smudging adjacent to basal two-thirds of costa and narrow white rays radiating from the base. Wavy hairs across the basal half of the forewing impart a distinctive wrinkled or "woolly" appearance. This is especially obvious on the larger, typically less colorful female.
Wingspan: 25-25 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Adult Structural Features: Males possess large pectinate antennae that are about 1/2 the length of the forewing; in Lagoa spp., the male antennae are about 2/3 the length of the wing (Forbes, 1923). Forbes described the forelegs as blackish with white at the apex of the tibiae. In our specimens, the tarsi and metatarsi of all legs appear to be blackish, unlike those of L. crispata, which are black only on the metatarsi.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The unusual larva, known as the Puss Caterpillar, is covered by long, dense, gray to tan hairs, with a blunt anterior end tapering to a narrow point posteriorly, giving it a vaguely mouse-like appearance. Like other members of this group, the hairs of the caterpillar are an irritant to the skin if brushed against; in some cases, severe reactions result from contact with these caterpillars, which are known as Asps in some parts of the country (see Wagner, 2005)
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Found over the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, but becomes scarce to absent in the Mountains
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Has a single mid-summer flight, with stragglers found as late as September
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: We have records from a wide range of habitats in the state, including maritime forests and scrub; peatlands; Longleaf Pine savannas, flatwoods, and sandhills; and dry slopes in the Piedmont and Mountains. We have fewer records for this species from bottomland hardwoods and cool, mesic forests than we have for Lagoa crispata, suggesting that it prefers somewhat drier to xeric habitats than that species.
Larval Host Plants: Broadly polyphagous, feeding upon a variety of shrubs and trees, including apple, hackberry, oaks, pecans, persimmon, and roses (Covell, 1984).
Observation Methods: Comes readily to lights. Adults have reduced mouthparts and may not feed; consequently, they do not come to bait or flowers.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Forests and Shrublands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it in state parks and on other public lands.
Comments: This species occurs widely across the state, occupying a broad range of habitats, and utilizing a large set of host plants, including many that are common. Consequently, this species appears to be quite secure in North Carolina

 Photo Gallery for Megalopyge opercularis - Southern Flannel Moth

60 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: John Petranka on 2021-07-15
Bladen Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2021-07-09
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-06-18
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Taylor on 2020-08-01
Beaufort Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2020-07-15
Polk Co.
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Recorded by: L. M. Carlson on 2019-07-28
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: L. M. Carlson on 2019-07-28
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-07-13
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: L. Purvis on 2019-07-02
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-07-01
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-07-01
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn on 2018-09-12
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2018-07-12
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Hunter Phillips, Cathy Songer on 2018-06-27
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-08-21
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-07-25
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-07-25
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-07-23
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-07-23
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Jackson on 2017-05-25
Tyrrell Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Jackson on 2017-05-25
Tyrrell Co.
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Recorded by: Ed Corey on 2016-06-25
Washington Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Coin, C. Sorenson on 2015-07-24
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Scharf, S. Hall on 2015-07-22
Stanly Co.
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Recorded by: Ed Corey on 2015-06-10
Washington Co.
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Recorded by: J. A. Anderson on 2015-04-28
Surry Co.
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Recorded by: M. Gosselin on 2014-06-24
Dare Co.
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Recorded by: T. Nergart on 2014-06-14
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-05-25
Dare Co.
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Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-05-23
Dare Co.
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