Is it poisonous?

A Guide to Poisonous Caterpillars Found in Pennsylvania



Pennsylvania is home to a variety of caterpillar species, some of which can be poisonous. It’s important to be aware of these poisonous caterpillars and their potential risks, especially if you spend time outdoors or have a garden. In this guide, we will discuss some of the most common poisonous caterpillars found in Pennsylvania.

1. Eastern Tent Caterpillar

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar is a common sight in Pennsylvania during the spring months. While not highly poisonous, their venom can cause skin irritation, redness, and itching. It’s important to avoid direct contact with their hairs or spines.

2. Saddleback Caterpillar

The Saddleback Caterpillar is easily recognizable due to the distinctive saddle-shaped mark on its back. This caterpillar is highly venomous and can cause severe reactions in humans. Touching or brushing against them can result in intense pain, swelling, and rashes. It’s important to seek medical attention if stung by a Saddleback Caterpillar.

3. Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar

The Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar is covered in long, white hairs that contain venomous spines. Contact with these spines can cause allergic reactions, including itching, redness, and welts. It’s important to avoid direct contact with them and seek medical attention if necessary.

4. Io Moth Caterpillar

The Io Moth Caterpillar is known for its striking colors and venomous spines. Contact with these spines can cause severe pain, swelling, and allergic reactions. It’s important to exercise caution and avoid touching or handling them.


While Pennsylvania is home to many beautiful and harmless caterpillars, there are also some species that can pose a risk to humans. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the poisonous caterpillars mentioned in this guide and take necessary precautions when encountering them. If you or someone you know is stung or comes into contact with a poisonous caterpillar, seek medical attention immediately to minimize any potential risks or complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I identify a poisonous caterpillar?

A: Poisonous caterpillars often have bright colors, spines, or hairs. It’s best to avoid direct contact with any unfamiliar caterpillars and consult a reputable resource or expert for identification.

Q: What should I do if I am stung by a poisonous caterpillar?

A: If stung by a poisonous caterpillar, wash the affected area with soap and water. Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and pain. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or if you experience difficulty breathing or severe allergic reactions.

Q: Are all caterpillars in Pennsylvania poisonous?

A: No, not all caterpillars in Pennsylvania are poisonous. However, it’s important to be cautious and avoid direct contact with any caterpillar that appears unusual or unfamiliar.

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