Saddleback Caterpillar

The spines on this colorful caterpillar deliver a potent sting.
Related To:
saddleback_caterpillar_new

saddleback_caterpillar_new


If you see this critter, don't touch! Its many spines are capable of delivering a sting you won't soon forget. The saddleback caterpillar's hollow quills are connected to poison glands beneath its skin, and the pain and swelling from contact with them can rival or surpass that of a bee sting.

The saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea) is the inch-long larval form of a fuzzy, dark brown moth. In this crawling stage, however, its coloration is vivid: in the center of its bright green "saddle" is a purplish-brown circle. The critter can be found in the eastern U.S., mostly on deciduous trees and shrubs as well as corn and grasses in midsummer to early fall.

If you have the misfortune of a too-close encounter with the saddleback, wash the area immediately with soap and water, and apply ice to help relieve pain. If any spines are still embedded in the skin, adhesive tape may be useful in removing them. The burning pain and discomfort can last for several hours. People with allergic reactions or who have a sensitivity to bee stings should contact their physician immediately.

Next Up

Walnut Caterpillar

In some southern states, this hairy critter is a hazard to pecan, walnut and hickory trees.

Spiny Elm Caterpillar

The spiny elm caterpillar is the larval stage of the mourning cloak butterfly.

Flannel Moth Caterpillar

The one-inch-long flannel moth caterpillar is fluffy but definitely not friendly. Don't let this cute Einstein-like visage fool you!

Different Types of Compost Bins

Learn about the many options for wood or plastic compost bins that are easy to assemble and use in your garden.

How to Garden in Just 15 Minutes a Day

No time to garden? Learn 10 easy tricks to multiply minutes in the garden.

Glossary of Gardening Terms

Whether you're just starting out or need a refresher, brush up on essential gardening terms with this easy glossary.

3 Gardening Podcasts to Get You Through the Slow Season

Gardeners: International Podcast Day is Saturday, September 30. To celebrate, start listening to one of these gardening podcasts to satisfy your plant habit during the lean times (they’re coming).

Discover the Joys of Pond Gardening

Maintaining a tranquil water garden is easier than you think.

Beneficial Insect: Braconid Wasps

Inside each of the little white cocoons on this targeted hornworm is a future garden-pest eating machine.

How to Help Orchids Flourish

Discover and learn about the intoxicating world of orchids.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.

Related Pages