Is it poisonous?

Beware the Poisonous Caterpillars in Ontario: Know the Risks and How to Stay Safe



Caterpillars are a common sight in Ontario, Canada. While most caterpillars are harmless, there are a few species that can pose a threat to humans. It is important to be aware of these poisonous caterpillars and know how to stay safe when encountering them.

Types of Poisonous Caterpillars in Ontario

Ontario is home to several species of poisonous caterpillars. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Gypsy Moth Caterpillar: This caterpillar has long hairs that can cause skin rashes and irritations.
  • Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar: Physical contact with this caterpillar’s hairs can result in skin irritation, rashes, and even blisters.
  • Eastern Tent Caterpillar: Although not directly poisonous, the hairs of this caterpillar can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions in some individuals.

Risks and Symptoms

Coming into contact with poisonous caterpillars can lead to various health risks and symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Itching and irritation
  • Swelling and redness
  • Blisters
  • Allergic reactions

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the individual’s sensitivity and the extent of contact with the caterpillar.

Prevention and Safety Measures

To minimize the risk of encountering and getting affected by poisonous caterpillars, follow these prevention and safety measures:

  1. Avoid direct contact with caterpillars, especially those with spiky or hairy bodies.
  2. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and gloves when working or spending time in areas where caterpillars are present.
  3. Be cautious when handling firewood, as caterpillars may be hiding in the logs.
  4. Teach children not to touch or play with caterpillars.
  5. If you come into contact with a caterpillar, gently brush off any hairs or spines on your skin and wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.
  6. If you experience severe symptoms or have an allergic reaction after contact with a caterpillar, seek medical attention immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How can I differentiate between poisonous and non-poisonous caterpillars?

A: It can be challenging to identify poisonous caterpillars without proper knowledge. It is best to avoid all direct contact with caterpillars to minimize the risk.

Q: Are all caterpillars in Ontario poisonous?

A: No, not all caterpillars in Ontario are poisonous. However, it is essential to remain cautious and avoid contact with any caterpillars.

Q: What should I do if I accidentally touch a poisonous caterpillar?

A: If you come into contact with a poisonous caterpillar, gently remove any hairs or spines from your skin, wash the affected area with soap and water, and monitor for any symptoms. If symptoms worsen or you have an allergic reaction, seek medical help.

Q: Can pets be affected by poisonous caterpillars?

A: Yes, pets can also be affected by poisonous caterpillars. Keep your pets away from caterpillars and seek veterinary care if they show any signs of discomfort or unusual behavior.


Being aware of the risks posed by poisonous caterpillars in Ontario is crucial for staying safe. By following preventive measures and knowing how to respond in case of contact, you can minimize the chances of experiencing any adverse effects. Stay vigilant and educate others around you to ensure a safe environment.

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