New photos have revealed a bizarre, big-haired beast lurking deep in the Peruvian Amazon, and scientists noticed that the odd creature bears a striking resemblance to a certain U.S. presidential candidate's famous (or perhaps infamous) hairdo.
The flannel moth caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis) sports fluffy, orange tufts that look suspiciously similar to Donald Trump's hair. As such, the researchers who encountered this creature have dubbed it the "Trumpapillar," after the Republican presidential candidate.
"I was putting on my boots, and someone said, 'Hey, check out this caterpillar hanging out,'" said Cremer, who captured photos of the larva in all its hairy beauty. "Sure enough, it was Donald Trump's hair hanging on a branch."
Adorable but irritating
This isn't the first time Cremer has seen the strange-looking caterpillar. He also spotted the creature four years ago, when he noticed the striking resemblance to Trump's hair, Cremer said.
Locals call this creature "ovejillo," which means "little sheep" in Spanish, Cremer told Live Science.
However, despite the critter's fluffy and adorable appearance, close contact with the Trumpapillar can be extremely irritating and even painful. That's because it's covered with so-called urticating hairs similar to those found on tarantulas, Cremer said.
"The hairs have little spines or little hooks on them that just go into your skin and irritate your skin and make you itch really bad," Cremer said. "Those spines have hypodermic needles in them that can inject venom, and it's extremely painful," causing raised welts and extreme pain for about a day, he said.
The flannel moth caterpillar, which measures about 2.5 inches long (6 centimeters) uses this venomous strategy to defend against potential predators, he added.
Like the troll dolls of the 1990s, the furry caterpillars come in a variety of colors, like white, yellow, red and pink, Cremer said. However, these aren't the only weird critters lurking in this region of the Amazon; Cremer has also found alien-like glowworms, weird symbiotic fungus, ant and caterpillar networks, and mysterious butterflies that drink turtle tears.
Original article on Live Science.
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Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.