Have you seen the ‘Monkey Slug’ in Iowa?
It’s not a very attractive name, is it? But it’s also known as a Hag Moth…which isn’t much better.
This cuddly-looking creature looks more like a hairy octopus than a caterpillar.
Yes, it can be found in Iowa, although it’s primarily located East of the Mississippi River. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, you’ll most likely find it in the shady areas of trees, fields, woods, and forests. I’ve lived in the state for over four decades and I have NEVER seen one.
Range of the Monkey Slug from Moth Photographers Group:
Despite their cuddlesome appearance, you probably don’t want to bother one. Hag moth caterpillars have up to nine pairs of spines that have toxin glands at their base, and the toxin is released upon contact. Symptoms can vary in severity and include burning or stinging, itching, redness, and inflammation. But…there is conflicting information on whether this caterpillar stings or not. Personally, I’d play it safe and leave it alone.
They get the “slug” name for their liquified trail of silk that they use to glide from place to place. They also may appear to be headless. They DO have a head; it’s usually just hidden in its ‘fur.’
I’m willing to guess you haven’t seen one in its moth form either as they are not commonly seen during the day, and when they do emerge, it’s usually under the canopy of a wooded area.
Even though it is called a "Monkey Slug" it resembles a tarantula, in a form of mimicry. Well done, Monkey Slug, well done.
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