Watch out for the saddleback caterpillar

sandyb11903August 25, 2005

I got stung by the caterpillar yesterday. It did not feel to good. I did not see them, they were on the underside of some lilly leaves. I did notice the black specks (poop, I guess) and I should have know that there was something close by. They were small caterpillars, must be young ones. They are active in August and September. BEWARE!!!!

I don't know how to add a link but if you google Saddleback caterpillar you will find a picture.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I agree that this is one of the most painful of all the stinging caterpillars. Attached is a link to a good photograph.

Several years ago, someone here in the GardenWeb said that these insects reminded him of little Scotty dogs!!!!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 2:50PM
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Gail(z7bGA)

One got me last week. Quite a little fellow; my own fault as I went to pick it off a palm leaf.

Gail

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 12:55PM
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Josh(z8a)

Wow, that is a strange looking creature. In over 30 years gardening in GA and AL I've never seen one. Have always had lots of Anoles and toads/frogs. Also feed birds so they hang around. Do you suppose the caterpillars got eaten? I sure don't want to be stung but I'd sure like to see one. josh

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 2:49PM
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efam(z7b GA)

They do look like Scotty dogs with a green t-shirt. How funny!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 3:15PM
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esh_ga

You usually don't see them because they feed from the underside of the leaf. They appear to like a wide variety of plants, I have seen them on serviceberry, blueberry, river birch and even an oak.

I have found immediate relief is best sought by applying ice.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 3:45PM
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WestEnder(z7 Atlanta GA)

Your warning came too late for me. I got stung by two of them last night while weeding an iris bed. They were on the underside of two iris leaves and got me on the face, neck and shoulder when I leaned over them. I let them live but it was a difficult choice. It was very, very painful. Almost as bad as the time I stepped into a hornet's nest while clearing out a hillside in my front yard.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 9:29AM
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John Pool(z7 GA)

I brushed against one over the weekend while mowing grass and ended up with a painful sting. This one was on a canna -- last time the little devil was on a blueberry plant and time before than on sweet corn. Apparently they're quite versitle in their taste in plants. What are the adult phase of these catepillars? Some sort of moth?
JPool

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 9:59PM
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esh_ga

Apparently this is the adult form.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sibine stimulea

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 11:04PM
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wildflower(z7b)

I've been stung by these 7 or 8 times during the last 2 weeks....

This may sound strange, but I promise you it works - Take a small clump of chewing tobacco, wet it, and leave it on the area where you got stung for about a minute or two...The pain will be gone almost immediately. I think what we have is Kodiak Wintergreen or something like that (no I don't chew the stuff), but it's in a small can; probably $2-$3/can, and well worth having around!

Works for bee stings too.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 12:38PM
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southwebb(z7b GA)

I was another victim yesterday while cutting my grass. The little devil was on the underside of an apple leaf and I brushed it with my hand. My first thought was a yellow jacket, but then I noticed it on the leaf.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 9:18PM
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momj47(7A)

Thanks for the information. I just found one on a leaf in my garden, here in Baltimore. Strangest looking thing I've seen in a long time. It's certainly more interesting looking than the moth. Having been stung years ago by a green, fuzzy caterpillar, I keep my distance from all of them now.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 12:39PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

These, along with fire ant bites just don't really bother me. I find their sting annoying temporarily, but not really all that painful.
I check the underside of leaves and just cut the leaf off they are hanging out in. Then I throw them in the curbside green recycling.
The adult moths are pretty darned ugly, no match for the luna!

GGG

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 12:13PM
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alex_7b(7b/8a)

Yup, they hurt!

I have seen them on Quercus virginiana and Washingtonia robusta. Not too fussy about diet.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 11:45AM
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vroomp(z7Ga)

Here's a nice pic of one I took last year so you know what to look for. They ARE still around even this late in the season.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 4:18PM
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teacake

I stung by one yesterday and because I am sensitive to stings it meant an emergency room visit. I did not have my epipen and this hurt so bad I thought I was going to pass out. Today my thumb is covered with red, itchy, blisters and is still swollen. I have never seen one of these before but I will never forget this one. FAIR WARNING! If you are sensitive to insect stings keep your epipen handy and wear gloves. This guy was on the wax myrtle around our pool.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 5:16PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I had one on my rose last year and was stung badly. Since then I wear gloves (for the bugs, not the rose thorns). I also saw a bunch of them on my cherry tree. I haven't seen any this year yet.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 7:49PM
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trudyjean82(z8SWGA)

Last year I had one on my loripedulum while I was pruning it and it got me before I knew it was there. This year I noticed 4 on my blue ginger and while removing the leaves it still got me as I was removing the leaf. It did hurt but luckily I'm not allergic to stings, just the pain from them lol. trudyjean

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 8:59AM
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mallorygardner

I found one on a willow tree leaf today and am extremely
fearful of these as one sent me to an emergency room in shock
years ago. Does anyone know if they hatch and live in the general area or do they tend to migrate (hopefully)?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 6:53PM
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portal07419_yahoo_com

Hello, I was stung today when I got the mail.I have never heard of them till today. I'm wondering if there native to New Jersey or if he just came in the mail?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 4:43PM
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teleigh(7b)

I got stung by one of these when I was a kid. I'll never forget it. It hurt like crazy and I had just barely brushed against it. I've always loved bugs, and still do, but I am very leery of caterpillars thanks to that experience!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 8:13PM
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jomart

I got stung today in the garden I've tended for 22 years and had no idea what got me until I found these caterpillers and looked them up. Are they spreading like Japanese beetles or something? I'm near Nashville.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 8:36PM
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love_savannah

They're so cute! I've never seen one but I hope to some day (from a distance).

Wildflower, who posted above, is correct about using moistened tobacco to take the sting out. It really does work.

I'll have to do a little more reading about the saddleback cat. I didn't know there were caterpillars out there packing a sting.

Sorry you got stung, Jomart.

B

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 9:18PM
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bagsmom(7)

Ouch! I have run into these little boogers and they hurt! It is interesting that there is virtually no mark when you brush up against them, but the pain is intense.

I have learned to be careful around plants with long, thin leaves, like liriope, iris, blackberry lily, etc. That's where I see them most often.

Ow, ow, ow!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 8:14AM
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chezron

For any insect stings- immediately apply a paste of meat tenderizer and water. I got stung four times the other day and this remedy sure came in handy! The tenderizer has digestive enzymes that break down the venom. I was my own lab experiment because I did not apply the paste to one site and it took much longer to stop hurting and itching, and it remained swollen, while the tenderizer sites were almost unrecognizable the next day.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 4:26PM
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esh_ga

I saw my first saddleback yesterday. Unfortunately these caterpillars munch on a variety of plants, so you never know where you'll find one. But they are often on the underside of the leaf.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 8:53PM
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vroomp(z7Ga)

Yup, got zapped by one last week walking past the mexican petunias by the pool. Boy! Those little boogers pack a wallop!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 9:49AM
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alwaysadaylate

I was stung twice by one small one. He stung me by my elbow and wris.
I was just pulling out dead snap pea plants and weeds by the dead pea plants. He was actually attached to some weeds. Darn thing......
My elbow and wrist joints hurt, my hand is slightly numb, and I am experiencing light headedness along with the lovely needle feeling.
Again darn thing.....my husband didn't let my attacker live. He plans to put 7 dust down....my question is what is the point of having a garden if it isn't organic grown?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 1:32PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

They actually don't sting. They are covered with very fine hairs that are as sharp as spun glass and that's what pricks you.

A few years ago, I had a bunch of them. But I haven't seen any since then. At least I know to always wear gloves now.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 7:57AM
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vroomp(z7Ga)

I counted six this morning on my Crocosmias after three got me on the arm while weeding. They don't hurt much but, can be quite a bother. They seem to prefer Iris, Crocosmias, Black Cherry, and Cannas, the best. Their camouflage works best with fall cherries since the brown spot blends with the leaves.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 5:35PM
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organic_gardenhag(7)

I now have a lot of the host plants that they like and just checking to see the time of year to watch for them and if anyone has seen the moth. It seems that its not til later, another month or so, around here North of Atlanta. I can not afford to get stung by one. Is anyone policing for them yet?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 2:40PM
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organic_gardenhag(7)

I now have a lot of the host plants that they like and just checking to see the time of year to watch for them and if anyone has seen the moth. It seems that its not til later, another month or so, around here North of Atlanta. I can not afford to get stung by one. Is anyone policing for them yet?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 3:34PM
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organic_gardenhag(7)

I am halfway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, for anyone wondering.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 9:45PM
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rosiew

Glad you resurrected this post, ogh. These hurt like the devil on me. Nice that others aren't as painfully stung.

I have never spotted one before getting stung. I'm more worried about the little kids that come here and cut flowers.

Rosie

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 6:54PM
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TreeRoots

I just found some of these on my Peach tree... So, should I get rid of them or let them be? Obviously, I don't want to get hit by them, but... I also hate killing things. They are on a branch in a glass of water right now.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 2:41PM
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maggiemoonbeam(7a N. Georgia)

First time one of those little buggers got me was at my 6th grade Hallowe'en party. It was on an azalea. I pitched such a fit I ruined the entire party, so I have never forgotten them.
One reason they hurt so much is that every little spine sticks INTO your skin and keeps on stinging. My brother suggested I keep a roll of MASKING tape in my garden bag, and if I get stung again, put a strip of tape gently but firmly over the spines and then pull it off---it pulls ALL the spines OUT which helps reduce the pain considerably. (Same thing for stinging bees and wasps that leave a stinger IN your skin.)
I used to use a paste of Adolph's Meat Tenderizer and water, too, but they've changed the formula and it no longer contains PAPAIN, the papaya enzyme, and instead uses BROMELAIN, the pineapple enzyme, and it doesn't work for me any more.
My usual "let them live" policy does NOT apply to saddleback caterpillars, any more than it does to roaches, rats and other "vermin."
Oh, and, BTW, saddlebacks LOVE Bearded iris leaves. As soon as the weather starts to cool off, start looking for them!!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 12:49AM
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caffeinelover

Just got hit by one of these. Trying to remove the stingers with packing tape and have ice on it now.

By the way this is in Northern NJ. It was feeding on the underside of a dogwood leaf.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 2:06PM
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gmaur(7b)

My first experience with this creature came this morning. I was watering patio plants, including a planter with a very large 3 year old dracaena (spike) plant, when I felt pain in my leg. Fearing it was a spider, I went looking and there he was under a leaf on the spike plant. I had to look him up because I had never seen anything so strange, and to learn if I was going to die from the "sting"...lol. As someone else pointed out, they don't actually sting but it does feel that way. Anyway, the pain was gone within a few minutes and now I know to watch out for caterpillars.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 6:00PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I got stung years ago by one that was in a hibiscus plant I was pruning.In Vero Beach, Florida. I don't like to kill bugs, but I wouldn't want to get stung again. I put ammonia on it and it took the sting away. Dreadful things, Something I can live without. No hibiscus in my yard now.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 7:58PM
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vnginger

You guys are scaring me... i am very allergic to bee stings. I am not looking forward to getting stunk by these guys! uuurgghh... i usually wear gloves in the garden. Hope that helps some. Wonder if i should just do the epideral pen when i get stunk by them?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 3:38AM
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rosiew

vnginger, this would be a good question to pose to your doc. I don't know if you are only allergic to bees. Do you? Use of the epi pen means a trip to the ER - and I'm thinking better safe than sorry. Think though it should be a decision from your doc.

When I've been stung, it was two or three times on my leg - brushed against whatever the demon was sitting on, and twice on my ungloved hand. Take care, Rosie

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 1:26PM
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organic_gardenhag(7)

He just got me, on the porch in a hibiscus. A little bitty guy, with a whopping sting. Should I let him live? Who is his parent?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 10:55AM
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organic_gardenhag(7)

Oh, yeah, I looked it all up again. I found a total of four, I gave them some leaves and put them in a nice jar. I will give them to somebody's kids or a teacher for science, then they can pin the moth. I am not sure if it is having much effect on me, it stopped stinging after an hour or so. Mine are very small, like a larger grain of rice, and the spines are buff colored. How big can they actually get?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2014 at 12:36PM
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