Saddleback Caterpillar

Subject: what the heck is this
Location: fuquay varina nc
September 2, 2013 12:55 pm
Walked past a branch and felt this awful pain in my leg followrd by whelps and redness then very sore. Took this pic. Holy moly what is it
Signature: glenn

Saddleback Caterpillar
Saddleback Caterpillar

Hi Glenn,
The stinging capabilities of the Saddleback Caterpillar,
Acharia stimulea, are well documented online.  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillars are capable of inflicting lasting and painful stings with their spines.”  According to Featured Creatures:  “Acharia stimulea is best known as a medically significant species. The large spines and potent hemolytic venom rank it as one of the most important North American species of urticating caterpillars, with larvae from the moth family Megalopygidae being the only lepidopterans considered more dangerous (Scott 1963, 1964; Durden and Mullen 2009; Hossler 2010).  The spines of A. stimulea are strong, acutely pointed, and hollow. They embed deeply into tissue and break off, and can interrupt healing as the protoplasm from the venom glands dries into the tissue area (Gilmer 1925). The venom itself can cause a systemic condition called erucism or acute urticaria, for which severe symptoms may include migraines, gastrointestinal symptoms, asthma complications, anaphylactic shock, rupturing of erythrocytes, and hemorrhaging (USAF 1982, Hossler 2009).  Physically manifested symptoms may or may not be present with erucism (Hossler 2009). Contact dermatitis caused by A. stimulea includes immediate intense burning sensations around the contact zone, arector pili muscles tightening causing hair to stand on end, increased perspiration in the affected area, red blanching of the skin, and blistering (Edwards et al. 1986; Hossler 2009, 2010). Symptoms can last for five hours, and leave red blotches in the envenomation site (Hossler 2009).”

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