Oleander Caterpillar: Do Not Eat Them until there is a detailed study of toxicity

they are everywhere!
Hi! We just moved into this house and we have these orange catepillars, with black tufts of hair crawling everywhere on our house. We have searched and cannot figure out what type they are, what they eat, etc… Their cocoons are black and thin because you can see straight through them. We believe that they turn into a black moth with white spots, with an orange butt. Are these poisonous? Please what can you tell us about them. They already had one set of caterpillars that cocooned and now we have a second set. Thank you,
Shereen

Hi Shereen,
This is an Oleander Caterpillar, Syntomeida epilais, which, as you know, matures into the Polka Dot Wasp Moth. They are probably feeding on your oleander plants, a flowering shrub that might be more likely to harm your children than these caterpillars are. Oleander contains Neriin, Oleondroside and Oleandrin and ingestion of leaves or stems of oleander can be deadly. Reportedly, even a single leaf might cause death. While oleander is a deadly poison for mammals, the Oleander Caterpillars are not affected. Quite possibly they store the poisons in their bodies and this might protect them. We do not recommend eating the caterpillars nor the adult moths.

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