FUZZY FELLOW

A banded tussock moth caterpillar rests on a leaf on the Cave Spring Trail Loop, about halfway between Salem and Eminence off of Highway 19 in Shannon County, part of Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The fuzzy tufts of hair on the larvae can cause irritation if touched; as an adult, the creature is known to derive a chemical protection from the alkaloids in the plants it eats. The larvae come in colors ranging from light grey to yellow or orange and will eat the leaves of ash, birch, elm, hackberry, oak, willow and walnut trees, according to Caterpillars of Eastern North America. The moth spends the winter in its pupal state, wrapped in a fibrous grey cocoon and emerging with white wings banded with light gray horizontal stripes.

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