Our Virginia Ctenucha may look soft from afar, but as you can see from the photo, that fuzzy appearance is put into perspective with a close up look at the hairs, or better referred to as spines now. These barbed spines have some unique properties.
It’s been suggested that the black spines may change into white spines as the Ctenucha sheds depending on the season. This is to more efficiently thermoregulate. By switching to white spines in the warmer months with greater sunshine, they are able to reflect more solar radiation; effectively keeping themselves from overheating. (See - Fields, PG and McNeil, JN. 1988. The importance of seasonal variation in hair colouration for the thermoregulation of Ctenucha virginica larvae (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). Physiol. Entomol. 13:165-175. )
In fact, our very own COTW has undergone this change since shedding yesterday. Check out the incredible difference in the image below!