t’s furry, brightly-coloured and bears an uncanny resemblance to Donald Trump’s hair.

But never touch the Flannel Moth caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis).

The 6cm-long critter is among the most venomous caterpillars in the Americas.

A Flannel Moth caterpillar, not Donald Trump's hair.

Jeff Cremer/YouTube

A Flannel Moth caterpillar, not Donald Trump’s hair.

Its bristles, which function like tiny hypodermic needles, are connected to venom gland cells: One wrong encounter can bring itching, intense pain lasting at least 12 hours.

The caterpillar has been nicknamed “ovejillo”, which means “little sheep” in Spanish, by locals.

Adorable but deadly: Locals in the Peruvian Amazon have nicknamed these critters "little sheep".

Adorable but deadly: Locals in the Peruvian Amazon have nicknamed these critters “little sheep”.

US wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer was working in the Peruvian Amazon jungle when he spotted the fluff ball four years ago.

“I saw a guy out in the jungle a few years ago who had brushed up against one,” said Cremer, 38. “He had a huge welt on his shoulder.”

Cremer told LiveScience the Flannel Moths come in different colours, such as white, yellow, red and pink, but the one he saw was bright yellow.

It reminded him right away of Donald Trump’s hair.

“So we gave it the name Trump,” he said.

When he recently came across the furball again, Cremer seized the chance to take more pictures of it.

“While I was putting my boots on a guy said: ‘Hey, there’s a cool caterpillar on a tree over there’. I went over to see and sure enough, it was Donald Trump’s hair hanging out on a tree.”

Cremer got busy, using a Canon 100 mm macro lens to get a close-up shot. Lucky for him, there was another one on the ground, and he used a Canon MPE-65 mm lens, which is like a microscope, to “get in super close”.

“I needed to be careful when taking the pictures,” he told the Washington Post, “because there was a little breeze and the stinging hairs started coming off and floating around in the breeze.

“If one of them touched my skin or landed in my eye, it could have been a bad situation.”

Cremer’s latest pictures appeared in LiveScience this week.

The Flannel Moth’s sudden rise in fame has spawned it a hashtag: #Trumpapillar.

 

 

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