Is it poisonous?

Dangerous Caterpillars to Watch Out for in North Carolina



Caterpillars are fascinating creatures that can be found in abundance across North Carolina. While most caterpillars are harmless and play an important role in the ecosystem, there are a few species that can pose a threat to humans and animals due to their venomous spines or irritating hairs. In this article, we will discuss the dangerous caterpillars to watch out for in North Carolina.

1. Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar

The Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar is one of the most common dangerous caterpillars in North Carolina. It has distinctive black and white spines and can cause severe skin irritation and allergic reactions when touched. It is commonly found on hickory and walnut trees.

2. Puss Caterpillar

The Puss Caterpillar, also known as the Southern Flannel Moth Caterpillar, is an extremely venomous caterpillar found in North Carolina. Its fuzzy appearance is deceiving, as it is covered in venomous spines that can cause intense pain, swelling, and even systemic reactions. It is important to avoid touching this caterpillar if encountered.

3. Io Moth Caterpillar

The Io Moth Caterpillar is another dangerous species found in North Carolina. Its spines contain venom that can cause severe pain, swelling, and a localized rash. It is recognizable by its vibrant green color and red stripes.

4. Saddleback Caterpillar

The Saddleback Caterpillar is a unique and harmful species found in North Carolina. It has a distinct saddle-shaped marking on its back, which often serves as a warning sign. Its spines contain venom that can cause intense pain, burning sensations, and even nausea if touched.

5. Eastern Tent Caterpillar

While not as venomous as some other caterpillars on this list, the Eastern Tent Caterpillar is worth mentioning due to its ability to cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. They are known for forming large silk tents in the branches of trees and can be commonly found in North Carolina.


It is important to be aware of the dangerous caterpillars that inhabit North Carolina to prevent any accidental encounters that may lead to painful reactions. If you come across any caterpillar that you are unsure about, it is best to observe it from a distance and avoid touching it. Seek medical attention if you are stung or experience allergic reactions. Stay safe and enjoy exploring the diverse wildlife of North Carolina!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are all caterpillars dangerous?

A: No, the majority of caterpillars are harmless and play a crucial role in the ecosystem as they are essential for pollination and serve as a food source for other animals.

Q: How can I identify a dangerous caterpillar?

A: Dangerous caterpillars often have bright or contrasting colors, spines or hairs, and distinctive markings. It is advised to avoid touching any caterpillar unless you are certain it is harmless.

Q: What should I do if I get stung by a dangerous caterpillar?

A: If stung, wash the affected area with water and mild soap. Use adhesive tape to remove any spines or hairs that may be embedded in the skin. Apply a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling. If symptoms worsen or if you experience an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.

Q: Can I remove dangerous caterpillars from my property?

A: If you encounter dangerous caterpillars on your property, it is best to contact a professional pest control service to safely remove them. Attempting to remove them yourself may put you at risk of being stung or causing further harm.

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