The truly gorgeous Io moth creates an equally lovely caterpillar turning from orange to bright green, and gaining hairy spines as it develops, which, on contact with an intruder release a poison causing a great deal of pain to whatever touched it.
The fragile beauty of the colorful butterfly or moth, is a sight we all gaze in wonder at, fluttering gracefully, but their offspring can be equally gorgeous to look at, creepy caterpillars or not, though some of these beauties hide nasty surprises for anything coming into contact with them.
One of the worst is the Saddleback caterpillar, covered all over in stiff spines poking out from potent poison glands. These are very aggressive creatures, happy to sting if touched, even unintentionally, which can have the effect of causing immediate swelling,, severe nausea followed by a nasty rash lingering for days afterwards. Try to avoid Hibiscus and Palm plants, because those are favorite haunts of these little beasts.
The caterpillar of the Bag Shelter Moth, one of the aptly named Processionary family, is another real villain, and best not touched at all. The are nocturnal feeders, going out foraging in nose-to-tail lines that lend them their family grouping. They defend themselves via bristles bedded in venom glands., which poison is highly anti-coagulant, so that anything or anybody affected can bleed to death from the smallest open wound, these horrors considered a health hazard in South America.
Less deadly but still nasty is Tthe Spiny Oak Slug caterpillar, beautiful to see, but covered again in spiny growths stemming from poison glands, dubbed Calltrop Spines, as they resemble weapons used by Roman Soldiers, they are extremely painful to the touch, usually resulting in a nasty rash that takes time to clear. Avoid Oak and willow trees, especially, when these creatures are around.
Most poisonous US caterpillar is called the Woolly Slug, or Pass caterpillar, very aggressive and liable to spit acid at any creature straying too close, as well as again being covered in poisonous spines that are responsible for extreme reactions on contact with human skin. Often mistaken for cotton balls, quite striking to look at, people picking them up suffer for it, so do keep your eyes peeled, especially round citrus trees.
Highly colorful Caterpillars of the Cinnibar Moth consume bitter tasting chemicals, making them inedible to predators, and are all covered in short hairs causing severe irritation on contact with skin,. Chemicals that can also lead to serious health problems in humans are released on contact, atopic asthma, renal failure and haemorrage being the worst effects, though most get away with a rash.
The truly gorgeous Io moth creates an equally lovely caterpillar turning from orange to bright green, and gaining hairy spines as it develops, which, on contact with an intruder release a poison causing a great deal of pain to whatever touched it. This beast loves Roses, so be on the lookout. Another beauty – see first image - which is prone to causing such discomfort is the long haired, highly colored Gypsy Moth caterpillar found all over the world these days.
The final, possibly most attractive caterpillar to feature here is the Stinging Rose Caterpillar, found in apple, oak, sycamore and dogwood trees as well as rose bushes, this truly astonishingly beautiful creature has a body literally covered in bristles, which deliver a painful, but not too damaging jolt if you should touch it, yet another example of how glorious the natural world can be.