Florida, NY

Poisonous caterpillar looks like a slug and is found in the Eastern United States

Anita Durairaj

The Saddleback Caterpillar is considered to be one of the most poisonous caterpillars in the United States.

It is the larva of a species of moth that is native to the Eastern United States. The caterpillar can be found feeding on different host trees such as corn foliage, apple, pear, cherry, rose, chestnut, oak, and plum in the late summer.

It is a unique caterpillar that has a small, stocky body and resembles a slug. It is unlike any other caterpillar in appearance. It is green in color and brown at both ends. It has a white-ringed brown dot in the center which resembles a saddle.

The caterpillar belongs to the family of stinging caterpillars. It measures an inch long and has poisonous spines projecting from its body. The spines serve as a defensive mechanism.

The spines on the caterpillar can break and release an irritating toxin that causes urticaria in humans. Urticaria is the skin rash that is triggered by the toxin release. Other symptoms include burning, itching, swelling, blistering, and nausea.

For some people, the pain can be worse than the sting of a bee.

The saddleback caterpillar is found in the eastern United States. While the caterpillar does not survive well in warm Southern climates, it has been seen in Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, and Kansas.

These caterpillars should be avoided but if contact with skin does occur, the spines should be removed immediately. It is recommended that adhesive tape be used to pull out the spines.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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