Trumpillar – a hairy caterpillar that resembles President of the United States, Donald J. Trump’s hair, but on an insect… is really just a flannel moth in its larva form.
The Trumpillar is scientifically known as Megalopyge opercularis.
Megalopyge opercularis is a moth of the family, Megalopygidae. This particular moth species goes by numerous common names. As an adult, the most common name for this species is the Southern Flannel Moth. When in its larva stage of life, Megalopyge opercularis appears as a yellowish wooly slug and is commonly known as a furry puss caterpillar due to the form it takes on.
Symbolistic for its fuzzy yellowish-orange hair, the Trumpillar takes on a very distinct look of the President’s hair-style when in its larva stage of life. These hairs are scientifically known as the word, setae.
Just as it’s painful to look at, it’s painful to step on as well. The setae of a larva Trumpillar are hiding the lethal pointed fleshy appendage. A single spikelet can cause agonizing pain when it comes in contact with human skin. If a human happens to step on one with bare feet, intense throbbing can occur in minutes.
Trumpillar Stages of Life
The larva form of an insect is the time of life before an insect is a pupa. This is the life stage before an insect undergoes transformation between immaturity and maturity – otherwise known as metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis of the Trumpillar
Metamorphosis is commonly seen with insects such as moths and butterflies. The metamorphosis transformation stage occurs when an insect physically develops after birth, involving an abrupt change in the insect’s body structure through cell growth and differentiation.
Complete metamorphosis is known as holometabolism, the development of an insect which includes the four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, & imago.
Just like a butterfly, moths pass through the pupa stage by isolating their selves in a cocoon.
Cocoons, also known as chrysalis, are commonly large and made of a hard, silky material that protect the moth while it transforms into an adult. Within the chrysalis, the old body parts of the Trumpillar undergo a remarkable transformation, becoming the beautiful parts that make up the Southern Flannel Moth that will emerge.
Once the moth reaches the imago stage, otherwise known as an adult, it reproduces and the life cycle rebegins.
Bug That Looks Like Trump’s Hair in Tennessee
To conclude, if you think you have come across a bug that looks like Trump’s hair, or a miniature toupee hairpiece iconic of President Trump’s hair, it’s most likely just a Southern Flannel Moth in larva caterpillar form.
Southern Flannel Moth’s are very common in Tennessee. During the Fall and Autumn months in Tennessee, moths go through their transformation from caterpillar to adult. This is why you might see them flying around, especially around bright lights due to being attracted to light.