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a family of moths. The wingspread is 3 to 4 cm. The wings are gray or yellowish gray with dark stripes, and the body is covered with fine hairs. The caterpillars live in large groups and move from one place to another in single file; they feed on the leaves of woody plants. The hairs on the caterpillars are poisonous; when they come in contact with a human’s skin or his respiratory tract they cause an inflammation. The Thaumetopoeidae pupate in oval cocoons.
The family has one genus that includes nine species, which are distributed in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and India. The USSR, in its southwestern European section, has two species: Thaumetopoea processionea, which is harmful to oak foliage, and T. pinivora, which is harmful to pine needles.