Saddleback Caterpillar Sting Symptoms and Treatments

August 8, 2018 | Caterpillar

The saddleback caterpillar is associated with the slug caterpillar family known as Limacodidae. They are located primarily in the United States, Canada, Central America, and Mexico. When they exist as saddleback caterpillars, they are in the larvae stage of their development. The adult saddleback is actually a moth with dark brown colors and a wide body.

Saddleback caterpillars are easy to recognize because they have brown legs, brown head, green flanks, and a green backside. In the middle of their back, there is a very noticeable brown oval shape which has a white border around it. This brown area in the middle resembles a saddle while the surrounding green color resembles a saddle blanket. That is why this caterpillar was given the name “Saddleback.”

A saddleback caterpillar is around one inch in length. It has a fat wide body with lots of little spines and hairs on its protuberances, which are the protruding areas of the body near the front and back. These hairs are linked to the poison glands inside of the caterpillar. For this reason, if you were to touch a saddleback caterpillar with your open hand or fingers, it would cause the toxins from the hairs to transmit onto your skin. In addition, the sides of the body contain a series of stinging organs too.

The Top 5 Symptoms

If a saddleback caterpillar stings you or their poison gets onto your skin, you will feel symptoms from it rather quickly. Below are the top 5 symptoms of saddleback caterpillar stings.

Nausea – If you feel sick or lightheaded from the saddleback caterpillar’s effects, then your body is probably having a highly adverse reaction to the poison. If your nausea doesn’t go away after a couple of hours, you should go to the doctor just to make sure there isn’t something more serious wrong.

Itching – Most people will feel itching when the caterpillar’s toxins get into their skin. The trick is to avoid scratching the affected area because that will make it worse.

Burning – The stung area of your skin will feel like it is burning for a short while. This will be the worst pain to get through but use pain relievers and ice packs to limit this pain.

Swelling – The affected area may swell up after getting stung. Do not panic because this is normal. Just keep applying the treatments and wait for the swelling to simmer down.

Redness – Of course, a visible indicator that you’ve been stung is redness on the skin. It will be circular like a ring in most cases.

Read also: Luna Moth Caterpillar: Food, Poisonous and Identification


You will certainly want to treat your symptoms as soon as possible because they will be rather unpleasant. This doesn’t mean your life is threatened from the toxins of a saddleback caterpillar. It just means that you will feel pain and discomfort for up to a week until your body has flushed the toxins out of your system.

The best immediate treatment for a saddleback caterpillar sting is removing any spines or hairs that are still in your skin. These elements are the reason that your pain stays consistent in the first place. To remove them, you can use a simple piece of Scotch tape to strip them away. Just continually apply the tape and peel it off the affected area until all the spines or hairs are removed. To get alleviate the stinging sensation as much as possible, apply an ice pack to the affected area.

For additional pain relief, mix a solution of water and baking soda together and apply it to the area. If you have a history of asthma, hay fever, or any other allergies, then you might want to make an appointment with your primary care physician. It is better to be safe than sorry. They may prescribe you a steroidal medication to help you deal with severe pain or inflammation.

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