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It’s not something your cat coughed up. And no, it’s not really Donald Trump’s hair. It’s actually a caterpillar that sports a toupée of highly toxic venom-tipped spines. Also known as the puss caterpillar or flannel moth, this neotropical species belongs to the family Megalopygidae. Jeff and Phil reported on an interesting yellow larva a couple of years ago near the Posada Amazonas Lodge. We spotted this furry purple beauty in December 2014 near the Tambopata Research Center on a day hike and had to stop for a mini photo shoot.

View of the caterpillar from the side

View of the caterpillar from the side

View of the caterpillar curled-up in a defensive position after being disturbed

View of the caterpillar curled-up in a defensive position after being disturbed

View of the caterpillar's underside

View of the caterpillar’s underside

If you happen to touch one of these fluffy caterpillars, it could cause an intense and painful inflammation of the skin which could last several days. Hoping to avoid these symptoms out in the jungle, we were careful not come into physical contact as we snapped a few pictures and then let our noxious insect friend be on its way. So should you encounter one of these, do as Gwen Pearson says: Never touch anything that looks like Donald Trump’s hair!

(This post originally appeared on Rainforest Expeditions. It has been reprinted with permission.)

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