The Top 10 Most Poisonous Caterpillars in the World

August 2, 2018 | Caterpillar

When we think about poisonous insects, we may just think of spiders. But the world is filled with a large variety of poisonous insects that we often don’t hear about. Various species of caterpillars fall into this category too. This can be hard to imagine for a lot of people in the west, but there are several caterpillar species that contain a deadly poison in them.  If you plan to travel the world, you better be aware of these caterpillars and what they can do.

Below are the top 10 most poisonous caterpillars in the world.

1) The Saddleback Caterpillar

The saddleback caterpillar may look beautiful on the outside with its green and brown colors, but do not ignore the pair of horns that it has either. These horns contain hairs which have the ability to produce venom. This venom will not kill you, but it could leave a painful rash on your skin that will last for many days. They mostly inhabit forests, shrubs, trees, gardens, or anywhere else that plant life exists.

2) The Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

The cinnabar moth caterpillar first has a pale-yellow color. As it grows and gets older, the color turns bright yellow and orange. There are also black striped bands along the back too. These caterpillars will turn into cannibals if they don’t have enough normal food. When it comes to defending themselves against predators, their hairs are highly toxic to them. Humans will also want to stay away from these hairs too.

3) The Monarch Caterpillar

The monarch caterpillar has a series of stripes that are white, yellow, and black in color. They grow very quickly and become roughly 2 inches in length during their adult stage. They like to eat milkweeds which give them cardiac glycosides. This helps them generate toxins that are dangerous to the mammals and birds that try to eat them.

4) The Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

The gypsy moth caterpillars are best known for their lengthy stiff bristles that are all black. They also have raised spots along their backside; 10 blue and 12 red. You will find a few toxic hairs on their backside as well. If you touch any of these hairs, it could give you dermatitis and/or a lot of painful irritation. If you see them in the forest, it is best to stay away and don’t touch them.

5) The Bag Shelter Caterpillar

The bag shelter caterpillars are quite unique because they walk together in an orderly fashion. However, these caterpillars are considered one of the most dangerous too. If you were to touch one of them, they won’t just give you a painful rash. You will endure external bleeding and internal bleeding from the toxins in their hairs. In fact, the internal bleeding could get so bad that it could actually kill you too.

6) The Puss Caterpillar

The puss caterpillar is the worst caterpillar that you could come across in North America. If your skin is exposed to its venom, you will feel intense burning and pain. There will also be an erythematous rash in that area too. Some people even experience symptoms of nausea and swelling too.

7) The Stinging Rose Caterpillar

The stinging rose caterpillar comes in many attractive colors like yellow, orange, red, green pinstripes, and purple. These bright colors have people calling them flamboyant caterpillars. Just be careful of their poison glands and spines with black tips. If you touch the tipped spines and one of them breaks off, your skin will come in contact with the venom. Most people may just get an uncomfortable rash from doing this, but others may come into a hypersensitive state.

8) The Hickory Tussock Caterpillar

The hickory tussock caterpillars have black and white colors on them. They also have hairs all over their body. But you’ll need to be careful of the two thin and sharp black hairs which are in the back and front of them. These particular hairs are linked to their poison glands. Common symptoms from touching these hairs include hypersensitivity and an irritating skin rash.

9) The Io Moth Caterpillar

Io moth caterpillars are 2 inches in length and walk together in processions. The start out orange and then become bright green. There are white and red stripes on the backside of their body too. If you were to touch their spines just a little bit, you would be exposing your skin to two different poisons. The symptoms will include burning, stinging, inflammation, and irritation.

10) The Spiny Oak Slug Caterpillar

The spiny oak slug caterpillars can have many vibrant colors to them, like yellow, pink, green, and blue. Just watch out for its dark clustered spines because they release a lot of poison. If the poison gets on you, you may have a terrible reaction which will require medical attention.

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