Stinging Caterpillars


Forest Health Guide for Georgia Foresters
Written by Terry Price, Georgia Forestry Commission
Adapted for the web by the Bugwood Network

Some common stinging caterpillars are the saddleback, tussock moth, puss moth, hag moth, Io moth, Isa moth and spiny oak slug (Figures 213-219). All feed on the leaves of various trees and shrubs between March and September and are capable of causing severe reactions in certain people.

Figure 213 - Saddleback caterpillar
photo by Center for Disease Control Archives

Figure 214 - Tussock moth caterpillar
photo by James Solomon

Figure 215 - Puss caterpillar
photo by James Solomon

Figure 216 - Hag moth caterpillar
photo by Jerry A. Payne,

Figure 217 - Io moth caterpillar
photo by Center for Disease Control Archives

Figure 218 - Isa moth caterpillar
photo by Beverly Sparks

Figure 219 - Spiny oak slug caterpillar
photo by Jerry A. Payne

The caterpillars are equipped with stinging spines located over their bodies. Each spine is connected to a poison gland that injects venom when touched. Children should be taught not to handle caterpillars unless they are recognized as harmless species. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants will prevent many brushes with these caterpillars while pruning trees and shrubbery or just taking a stroll through the woods.

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