The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Saddleback caterpillar

Saddleback caterpillar

Somewhere early in life, I was told that fuzzy caterpillars can sting.  Later, I discovered that all caterpillars that turn into moths (instead of butterflies) are fuzzy, but only a few sting.  Yet, I kept my distance anyway.

Saddleback caterpillar backI finally got stung by a caterpillar for the first (and second time) in mid September.  This saddleback caterpillar was hiding in the blueberries and I accidentally brushed my finger against it while picking.  The surprising pain made me jump away and then forget about the caterpillar, so the critter managed to sting me again a few days later when I came back to finish harvesting that spot.

Luckily, the sting wasn't very bad --- not worth spending decades avidly avoiding an entire sub-order for.  It felt like I'd walked through a patch of stinging nettles, meaning the pain was intense for a minute, noticeable for an hour, then quickly forgotten.  (To be fair, though, I have a high tolerance for stings.)

If you live in my neck of the woods, you can see all of our poisonous caterpillar species here.  Like snakes, I figure it's worth learning the few poisonous species so you'll know everything else is harmless.  Then you can start enjoying the beautiful permutations of nature without worrying about your skin.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I was stung by a puss caterpillar once (you can see them on the link you posted) and lord-all-mighty it hurt! I was only about twelve at the time, but remember my whole arm turned numb after the intense pain went away. I thought I was going to die. I've my best to stay away from fuzzy caterpillars ever since.

Interestingly, my dad told me it was a saddleback at the time. But I remember what it looked like quite clearly, and on the link you sent it says that's a puss caterpillar.

Comment by Everett Sun Oct 13 22:45:14 2013
Thanks for the link to poisonous caterpillars! I, too, had been avoiding all fuzzy ones. Willow got mixed up with an Io Moth caterpillar and it quickly produced white spots and swelling. Spotted jewel weed is a good on-site remedy for skin irritations like that.
Comment by Brandy Mon Oct 14 06:30:20 2013

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