It is confounding that such a soft-looking caterpillar would induce pain for petting it, but that is the case for the Black-waved Flannel Moth Caterpillar. At one point in this life stage, the caterpillar is a fuzzy mess of frilly hairs. Shorter, well-groomed hairs eventually take over. Hidden among the long, wispy hairs and the short, velvety ones are stinging setae that defend the caterpillar from predatory contact. The overall color of the caterpillar varies. Some are bright white, while others are brown, rusty orange, or gray and yellow. All of them look like they welcome touch, but resist the temptation.
Leaves from various trees and shrubs are food sources for this caterpillar. The adult does not eat. It is called a Black-waved Flannel Moth because it has lines of black crimped hairs on creamy wings. The ripples of hairs give the moth a soft, brushed flannel appearance. One generation is produced each year with a possible second in the warmest parts of its region.
The map above showcases (in blue) the states and territories of North America where the Black-waved Flannel Moth Caterpillar may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.*NOTE: States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Black-waved Flannel Moth Caterpillar. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.