P&PDL Picture of the Week for
November 10, 2008

Beware of Certain Fall Time Caterpillars

Timothy J. Gibb, Extension Entomologist

Bees, wasps, and hornets have a well-deserved reputation of being able to inflict a very painful sting. Caterpillars, on the other hand, are thought to be fuzzy, cuddly creatures that could hardly harm a leaf. Each year a few people, including the person who submitted the accompanying photo, come to find out that this general categorization is not always true. They learn the ‘hard way’ that handling some caterpillars can produce painful results.

Many caterpillars have, what appear to be, spines or barbed hook-like growths covering their body. These are sometimes remarkable, but other than scaring away kindergarten children, they are not very useful for defense.

For more information on the hag moth caterpillar see the following Extension publication, HN-56 (pdf file).

Click image to enlarge

Hag moth caterpillar

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service