Is it poisonous?

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



Ontario, Canada is home to a variety of caterpillar species, some of which can pose a danger to humans. These poisonous caterpillars have become a growing concern, as their population has increased in recent years. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with these caterpillars and know how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

The Risks of Poisonous Caterpillars

Poisonous caterpillars found in Ontario can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and in some cases, more severe symptoms. One of the most common species of poisonous caterpillar in Ontario is the gypsy moth caterpillar. Its tiny hairs contain a toxin that can cause itching, rash, and even difficulty breathing if inhaled.

Another species to watch out for is the io moth caterpillar, which has spines that can inject venom. Coming into contact with these spines can result in intense pain, swelling, and redness at the site of contact.

Identifying Poisonous Caterpillars

It is important to be able to identify poisonous caterpillars to avoid contact with them. Some common characteristics of poisonous caterpillars in Ontario include:

  • Hairy or spiky appearance
  • Bright colors or distinctive patterns
  • Clusters or groups found on trees or plants

If you come across a caterpillar that fits these descriptions, do not touch it. Instead, admire it from a safe distance or contact a local pest control professional for assistance.

Tips to Stay Safe

To reduce the risk of coming into contact with poisonous caterpillars, follow these safety tips:

  1. Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves, pants, and gloves, when spending time outdoors in areas known to have these caterpillars.
  2. Be cautious when touching or leaning on trees, especially during the caterpillar season.
  3. Avoid walking or playing barefoot in areas where caterpillars are known to be present.
  4. Teach children about the dangers of touching caterpillars and encourage them to notify an adult if they see any.
  5. If you or someone you know comes into contact with a poisonous caterpillar, wash the affected area with soap and water, and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and discomfort. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or if an allergic reaction occurs.


Being aware of the risks associated with poisonous caterpillars in Ontario is the first step to staying safe. By familiarizing yourself with the characteristics of these caterpillars and following the safety tips mentioned, you can reduce the chances of encountering them and protect yourself from their harmful effects. Enjoy the outdoors with caution and take appropriate measures to stay safe from poisonous caterpillars.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Are all caterpillars in Ontario poisonous?

A: No, not all caterpillars in Ontario are poisonous. However, there are several species, such as the gypsy moth caterpillar and the io moth caterpillar, that have toxic effects on humans. It is important to be able to identify these poisonous caterpillars to avoid contact with them.

Q: What should I do if I find a poisonous caterpillar on my property?

A: If you find a poisonous caterpillar on your property, it is best to avoid touching it. Keep a safe distance and contact a local pest control professional for assistance in identifying and safely removing the caterpillar.

Q: Can pets be affected by poisonous caterpillars?

A: Yes, pets can be affected by poisonous caterpillars. If you suspect that your pet has come into contact with a poisonous caterpillar, monitor them for any unusual symptoms, such as excessive scratching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Contact a veterinarian for further guidance.

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