Subject: Sting from below caterpillar
December 13, 2013 7:27 am
Hi there, wonder if you can help. Got stung on the finger by photographed caterpillar as I was touching it (now I know I shouldn’t).
Felt the sting at that moment though I’m not seeing any welts for past six hours.
Any course for worry? Can you identify this species and is this poisonous?
Hope to get your email reply.
We believe this is the caterpillar of a Brush Footed Butterfly. It looks very similar to some North American Caterpillars like the Questionmark and the Mourning Cloak. We will try to contact Keith Wolfe to see if he is able to identify your caterpillar to the species level. While a stinging sensation may occur upon contact with the spines, to the best of our knowledge, there are no lasting effects.
Keith Wolfe identifies the Tawny Coster Caterpillar
Hello Nicky and Daniel,
This is a Tawny Coster (Acraea violae) caterpillar, a butterfly that only recently became established in Singapore (http://butterflycircle.blogspot.com/2008/03/voyage-of-tawny-coster.html). Nicky, I’d wager that what you felt was a prick from a sharp spine and NOT a poisonous sting, for though these caterpillars feed on a family of toxic plants (Passifloraceae; additional photos/info — http://butterflycircle.blogspot.com/2013/02/life-history-of-tawny-coster.html), they’re essentially harmless to touch, at least in my hands-on experience. Of course, the outcome could be different if a person is allergic or sensitive to such contact or decided to eat one (as a bird would) for breakfast.
Dear Daniel and Keith,
Thanks for your prompt replies. Bingo on the caterpilla – what a beauty it will transform into.