Meet The Trumpapillar: The Venomous Caterpillar That Perfectly Mimics The Donald’s Hair

By Christie Wilcox | October 6, 2016 12:45 am

Many have wondered about exact nature of Donald Trump’s hair. Is it the world’s worst toupee? A poorly-executed elaborate comb-over? A weird, incredibly expensive weave? The world may never know. But I prefer to think it’s inspired by nature—not another human’s lovely locks, of course, but those of this animal, which some have taken to calling the Donald Trump Caterpillar or simply the Trumpapillar:

Meet the Trumpapillar. Photo Credit: Jeff Cremer

Meet the Trumpapillar. Photo Credit: Jeff Cremer

Prior to this election season, the animal was known as the Flannel Moth Caterpillar or the Asp Caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis). As an adult, the Trumpapillar is equally fur-tastic:

The fuzzy adult flannel moth. Photo Credit: Patrick Coin

The fuzzy adult flannel moth. Photo Credit: Patrick Coin

But while the adult is a plush hybrid between moth and cat, the young caterpillar’s golden hairs are not just fluff. The Donald Trump Caterpillar isn’t just a surprisingly-accurate mimic of The Donald’s hair—it’s even more venomous than its namesake. The lovely waves of dandelion “fur” which so perfectly emulate the Republican candidate’s locks are actually dangerous spines capable of delivering potent toxins.

Macro shot of the Trumpapillar's venomous hairs. Photo Credit: Jeff Cremer

Macro shot of the Trumpapillar’s venomous hairs. Photo Credit: Jeff Cremer

According to the scientific literature, contact with the fine hairs—what scientists call ‘setae’—is an awful experience. “Intense, throbbing pain develops immediately or within five minutes of contact with the caterpillar,” explains David Eagleman in Clinical Toxicology. And we’re not talking a little boo-boo—as Eric Hossler explains in an article in Dermatologic Therapy, some patients liken the amount of pain to “a broken bone, kidney stones, or being hit with a hammer or baseball bat.” A characteristic grid of blood-colored spots mark the site of the sting for about a day afterwards. And pain isn’t the only symptom—Eagleman writes that responses to stings “can include headaches, nausea, vomiting, intense abdominal distress, lymphadenopathy, lymphadenitis, and sometimes shock or respiratory stress.”

Impressive, for a wiggling wig.

In fact, the animal is so venomous that there are creatures—other than The Donald—which attempt to mimic its look, as Joe Hanson explains:

While these photos were taken in the Amazon, this furry monster isn’t just found south of the border; its range extends through Texas all the way up to Maryland and down through Florida. Many Americans have Trumpy toupees crawling around their backyards and don’t even know it! So if you live in the south, keep an eye out—you’ll regret rubbing elbows with the Trumpapillar even more than these Apprentice contestants do with its namesake.

  • Uncle Al

    Boy – no politics here, eh?

    Donald and Hillary visit a bakery during campaigning. Hillary bumps into a table, slipping three cream puffs into her pocket. She tells Trump, “See how clever I am? Nobody saw anything. The election is mine!”

    Trump goes to the counter and says, “Give me a cream puff and I will show you a magic trick.”

    The counterman gives him a cream puff. Trump swallows it and asks for another, and another, and another. The counterman is not Progressive. “Magic trick my butt, where are my cream puffs!”

    Trump smiles, “Look in Hillary’s pocket.

    • Jeremy Turnley

      That’s hilarious, but it’s actually stolen from the original version where the people in it were reversed. Which was stolen from the last several presidential elections where it was used with both candidates’ names in each case. And those were stolen from an old political cartoon from the 1800s.

      Glad that someone out there can keep these crappy old political jokes going long past when they are funny,

      • John C

        Those recycled Boss Tweed jokes are still a hoot.

        • Mnestheus

          On a hot day, Boss Tweed departs Tammany Hall and swaggers into McSorley’s Ale House.

          “Gimme a cold one!” demands the boss, But seeing no money the tapster demurs.

          “Come on, man- for posterity ‘s sake !” avers the Great Man of the People.

          “Ain’t you heard what the President said ?” the barman responds.

          “Waal,” sez Lincoln. “What’s posterity ever done for us ?”

      • Uncle Al

        William M. “Boss” Tweed was a Democrat. “I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating” The Democrat vision remains, though cupidity has been displaced with rapacity.

        • Jeremy Turnley

          And, of course, Democrats were the conservative party at the time, and Republicans were the progressives. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

          • Mustanglovely

            That was a long time ago & the present Democratic party is my different than then.

        • Walter Masterson

          Can you picture Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or other beloved Republicans of old now so fondly cited by today’s GOP actually belonging to today’s GOP?

          It was a trick question. No one can.

    • John C

      My favorite Donald Trump joke:

      A beautiful blonde steps into the elevator he’s riding, she is thrilled.

      “Aren’t you Donald Trump?”

      “Why yes, I am.”

      “You’re my hero… Can I @&$&?! you?”

      “What’s in it for me?”

      • Mike Richardson

        I think his own words make it pretty clear what he thinks he’d be entitled to do in that elevator. Between what his multiple affairs, cavalier comments about sexual assault, and bragging about the “perks” of inspecting the Miss Universe pageant contestants, he’s a real joke of a human being. Just more pathetic than funny.

    • Mustanglovely

      Proving he’s a liar.

  • Mustanglovely

    Yeppers! Almost hilarious except for results of interaction with this creature. Yes it does strongly resemble Dolt 45’s hair. I’d not want to see this little beastie wandering around my residence. Yikes! Butterflies, most bugs & many spiders are welcome at my home & they’re beneficial. But Trumpapillars are not.


Science Sushi

Real Science. Served Raw.

About Christie Wilcox

Dr. Christie Wilcox is a science writer based in the greater Seattle area. Her bylines include National Geographic, Popular Science, and Quanta. Her debut book, Venomous, released August 2016 (Scientific American/FSG Books). To learn more about her life and work, check out her webpage or follow her on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook.


See More


@NerdyChristie on Twitter

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!