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The larva is distinctive, with no close analogues although it may be mistaken for the shed skin of a hairy spider or leaf debris. It has six pairs of curly projections, three long and three short from the flattened body, each densely covered in hairs. According to Wagner (2005), who experimented on himself, the hairs do not sting, contrary to popular belief. However, susceptibility can vary among humans and it may produce a reaction in some people. Some members of the family Limacodidae do sting. Like all limacodids, the legs are shortened and the prolegs are reduced to suction cups. The 'arms' can fall off without harming the caterpillar. Maximum length of larvae, 2.5 cm.
One species, the hag moth (Phobetron pithecium), derives its name from the larva’s fleshy appendages, which are covered with brown stinging hairs resembling disheveled or tousled hair. When the caterpillar spins its cocoon the appendages are transferred to the outside of the cocoon, where they serve for protection and camouflage.