Numerous caterpillar species are abundant within residential lawns and gardens during the spring and summer seasons in upstate New York. Some of these caterpillars are harmless, while many others are not. Caterpillars are not commonly associated with painful stings that land people in the hospital, but they probably should be, as several potentially dangerous caterpillar species in upstate New York maintain a habitat within residential lawns. These caterpillars are not aggressive, but their bodies are outfitted with spines that prick human skin and release venom into the bloodstream. Simply touching one of these caterpillars will cause the spines to detach and remain stuck within skin, allowing venom to continuously enter the bloodstream.
In addition to being painful, these stings often cause rashes, asthma attacks and many other allergic responses. Young children sustain caterpillar stings at a particularly high rate due to their habit of picking up everything in sight; and many venomous caterpillars are covered in what appears to be fluffy hairs, which makes the caterpillars appear friendly as opposed to menacing. Being able to recognize the most dangerous and abundant caterpillar species within residential areas can prevent you and your children from sustaining a highly unpleasant sting.
The saddleback moth-caterpillar is one of the most widespread caterpillar species within residential areas of upstate New York. This species will inflict particularly painful stings that often cause nausea, swelling and rash. The saddleback caterpillar can be found on deciduous trees, particularly basswood, chestnut, cherry, oak and plum. This species is easy to recognize due to the neon-green design that can be found in the caterpillar’s midsection, and two protrusions are evident on either side of this caterpillar, making the creature look like an upside down coffee table. Both the hickory and the white-banded tussock moth-caterpillars are notable for their bright-white exteriors which feature a few tiny black dots. These caterpillars inflict stings that often result in rashes that resemble those caused by poison-ivy in both appearance and symptomatology. Luckily, most venomous caterpillar species are hard to miss on account of their bizarre bodily designs.
Have you ever spotted a bizarre-looking caterpillar species?