The Venezuelan Poodle Moth — the almost unreal looking subject of the popular meme — is believe it or not, a real animal, not a hoax. The species was only recently identified, in 2009, but there are actually quite a few rather closely related moth species that look just as interesting/strange.
The Venezuelan Poodle Moth — Artace sp, possibly A. cribaria — was first described in 2009 by Dr Arthur Anker of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, who found the species in the Gran Sabana region of Venezuela. The species superficially appears to be closely related to the Muslin Moth — Diaphora mendica.
The species almost definitely belongs to the family Lasiocampidae, and most likely belongs to the genus Artace, or perhaps another genus closely related to Artace. While it’s possible that it may be a subspecies of Artace cribraria — which is presumed to range from northern North America down to to Argentina — it seems more likely that it may be a different species. There are somewhere around 10-15 South American species of Artace that have been scientifically described so far, so it may be one of those, or possibly a regional subspecies, or a species which has yet to be scientifically described.
Beyond that, there isn’t really much else known about the species currently, unfortunately…
So all that’s left to say is enjoy the pictures – I’ve included some images of related and interesting looking species below. 🙂