8/27/2008

Stinging catepillar - OUCH!

When you’re lucky you’re lucky. A few weeks ago I got stung by a wasp and it was VERY painful. The wasps were nesting under the rocking chair on the porch and my 4 year old decided to give it a good old shake as she walked by. The next thing all hell breaks loose - she goes bolting across the yard while my wife is shouting obscenities at the flying fleet of attackers. I jump out of my chair and run towards the little screaming victim, only to become one myself. Needless to say, neither of us were happy campers for the next 20 minutes or so.
Ok, so that was lucky. Yesterday I managed to beat that little experience when I bumped into a stinging caterpillar. I was dead-heading some flowers when I bumped into a Saddleback Caterpillar (Sibine stimulea).



I had never heard of a stinging caterpillar, but this guy sure packed a punch! The best part of the story is that the ‘sting of the saddleback is the most severe of the slug caterpillars’ according to L. L. Hyche, Associate Professor of Entomology at Auburn University.

Here’s some more info on this hairy little critter:
The saddleback is one of the most common of slug caterpillars occurring in the area. Its conspicuous form and markings make it nearly unmistakable, even in the early stages of development. The full-grown caterpillar is about 1 inch long. The anterior and posterior areas of the body are dark brown with prominent brown "horns" that bear numerous spines. The middle of the body is green. The green area has a white or cream margin and a large oval to oblong dark brown spot in the center, also with white margin. The appearance is that of a saddle and blanket, thus the common name. Small clumps of spines occur in a row along the lower margin of the green area and at the rear of the caterpillar.

The saddleback is generally a solitary feeder; however, early stage larvae may be somewhat gregarious. The caterpillar occurs on a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and other plants, including corn. Common tree hosts are apple, basswood, cherry, dogwood, elm, maple, oak, and plum. It is most often encountered in late summer and fall.

For more info on stinging caterpillar check this out.
My advice to you is if you see one of these hairy dudes with a red dot on their back RUN! You can bet that I'll be checking around me a little more when I head into the garden from now on.....





6 comments:

Patrick Belardo said...

I've always wanted to see one of those in person... not the way you did, but I'd still like to. Sorry about your encounter!

Owlman said...

They definitely are awesome creatures, that's for sure. I sent the pictures to one of my friends and he informed me that his wife had an encounter with one too.... I now know they're out here and I definitely be on the lookout for them. The bad part about them is they seem to hide on the under side of leaves so it makes them hard to see - which is a great way to avoid becoming food, but it doesn't help us humans much! Thanks for popping in Patrick.

Gallicissa said...

That is a neat-looking critter. It sure looks nasty. Cool close ups.

HANNIBAL said...

Wow, I've never heard, nor seen these stinging catapillars. They make for great photography though. Just think, if you had not got stung, you would know nothing about them. Your sacrifice is our gain ;) Thanks!

dguzman said...

OUCH! Very cool-looking, but OUCH. And ouch on the wasps too. It's amazing how much a tiny bug can hurt you, isn't it?

Owlman said...

Hey Gallicissa, Hannibal & Dguzman thanks for popping in and for the lovely comments. The little guy sure is awesome looking although the sting is incredible!