Subject: Rare Insect
Geographic location of the bug: Southern New Jersey
Time: 07:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: This weird/rare looking insect is eating the leaves on our Asian pear tree & when my husband pulled one off a leaf it stung him & left his skin feeling temporarily numb.
How you want your letter signed: Sharon Beningo
The Saddleback Caterpillar, Acharia stimulea, is not considered rare, and BugGuide reports sightings in much of eastern North America. The stinging capability of the Saddleback Caterpillar is well documented, including on Featured Creatures where it states: “Color patterns are aposematic, or having bright warning colors that denote toxicity or distastefulness” and “The large spines and potent hemolytic venom rank it as one of the most important North American species of urticating caterpillars.”
Thanks so much for your quick response. We will definitely not be touching any more of them!