Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spiny Oak-slug Moth

Spiny Oak-slug Moth, Euclea delphinii, family Limacodidae, or the Slug Caterpillars.  Maybe the name needs some explaining:

  • Spiny refers to the caterpillars appearance, which is indeed very spiny as well as colorful.  And the spines deliver a mild sting.  The spines are hollow and contain a toxin; when contact is made with the caterpillar, the spine breaks off and sticks into the skin, delivering the toxin.
  • Oak refers to one of this caterpillar's foods.
  • Slug is another reference to the caterpillars appearance, which is slug-like.  There's a whole family of slug caterpillars (Limacodidae), with about 30 species in eastern North America.  The head is covered by the fleshy thorax, and instead of legs and prolegs, slug caterpillars bear seven pairs of suckers along their abdomen, which causes them to glide instead of crawl.
  • Moth, because everything else in the name refers to the caterpillars.