Stinging and Venomous Caterpillars of the Southeast
a close up photo of an Io moth caterpillar on a branch
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landscape caterpillar pests
stinging and venomous caterpillars

How to Cite

Perry, Rebecca, and Adam G. Dale. 2018. “Stinging and Venomous Caterpillars of the Southeast: SP107/IN014, Rev. 6/2018”. EDIS 2018 (3). Gainesville, FL.


Wasp and bee stings are familiar to most people, but some might be surprised to learn that several caterpillars can also sting. This painful experience results from coming into contact with, or handling, a stinging caterpillar. Unlike wasps and bees with stingers, these caterpillars have urticating hairs, which are barbed and easily break off the caterpillar’s body, causing sudden or gradually building pain. Caterpillars urticate these spines upon contact with skin or when they feel threatened. The severity of a sting varies based on the person and number of spines embedded in the skin. Many stinging caterpillars also release a toxin on contact, which may be of health concern. The caterpillars discussed in this document are found throughout the southeastern U.S.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.