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Stinging Caterpillars: Cute, Fuzzy…but Itchy

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Stinging Caterpillars: Cute, Fuzzy…but Itchy

‘Tis the season where little ones discover a world full of creepy, crawly things in the backyard and the playground.  Centipedes, inchworms, and caterpillars make great finds for anyone’s bug catcher, but know that there are several creatures to beware of.

Several types of caterpillars can cause a very ugly reaction because of their stinging hairs. The good news is that only a few of the thousands of variety of caterpillars sting.  However, if you come across a stinger, be careful of its hairs, which once embedded in skin, release toxins that cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including a poison ivy-like rash, a severe burning sensation, and swelling.  Hypersensitive reactions can include severe swelling, difficulty breathing, and a generalized system reaction.

If you spot any of the following critters, admire from afar; do not pick them up.  If you find one of these on your clothing, remove immediately using some kind of barrier such as thick gloves and a towel you can discard.

1. The Saddleback caterpillar is brown in the front and rear, and has a very noticeable green “saddle” on its back, with a purplish-brown spot in the middle. There are prominent horns on the front and rear.  Saddlebacks tend to feed on the underside of leaves, and are typically found on oak, cherry, plum, chestnut, and basswood trees.  They are sometimes found on corn as well.

Next: The Puss Caterpillar

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Terri Hall

Terri Hall lives in the Hudson Valley with her family. In addition to writing, Terri works with public television and radio stations/networks in the area of new media, and leads workshops on authentic and empowered living.


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1:38AM PDT on May 20, 2015


3:08AM PDT on Oct 18, 2014

Thank you :)

10:17AM PDT on May 23, 2014

Thanks for sharing .They are beautiful especially the fuzzy guys !

8:43AM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

Thank you Teri, for Sharing this!

2:05AM PST on Dec 14, 2012

I love caterpillars, but I admire from afar!

9:17AM PST on Nov 30, 2012

Lovely. Thanks.

4:57PM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

Amazing, thank you!

4:56PM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

Amazing, thank you!

8:44PM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Butterflies (what caterpillars turn into) are a sentinal species. They are extremely sensitive to environmental changes and tip off scientists early on that something is up with the environment.

1:33AM PST on Jan 1, 2012

Thanks for the article.

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