Stinging Caterpillars

Venomous Caterpillars

Participants in last week's Ohio Plant Diagnostic Workshop looked at but didn't touch, the Smaller Parasa (Parasa chloris). They kept their distance because the deceptively named caterpillar packs a venomous punch that's far from small. As with many creatures in Nature (e.g. crocodilians, mamba snakes, grizzly bears, etc.); these caterpillars should not be handled.
Published on
Authors
Joe Boggs

What is the Threat from Stinging Caterpillars?

The vast majority of lepidopteron (moths and butterflies) caterpillars, even many with hairs, do not present a threat.  However, there are some with hairs that are modified for defense.  These are collectively called urticating hairs from the Latin urtica meaning "nettle."  Indeed, the hairs on stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which are called trichomes; provide a good model for the venom injecting mechanism used by some of the more serious urticating hairs found on caterpillars.

 

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Published on
Authors
Joe Boggs