Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Saddleback Caterpillar - (Acharia stimulea)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 5/13/2015

It is prudent to avoid touching something that looks so strange. Saddleback Caterpillars have stinging spines.

The Saddleback Caterpillar is covered in short hairs that sting when touched and contact can sometimes leave a rash on its human victim. It is a member of the Slug Caterpillar Moth family and has traded in some of their legs for suckers. This allows them to defy gravity and walk along the underside of leaves and branches when feeding. They are not picky eaters and will feed on a variety grasses, trees and shrubs.

This highly unusual caterpillar becomes a dark brown moth as an adult. The when wings are opened flat, you can see that the moth has a small white spot on its forewings near its body and then two or three white spots near the tips of the wings. The summer season is its most active time of year.

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Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common name: Saddleback Caterpillar
Scientific Name: Acharia stimulea

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Lepidoptera
      Family: Limacodidae
       Genus: Acharia
        Species: stimulea

Adult Size (Length): 26mm to 46mm (1.02in to 1.81in)

Identifying Colors: green; brown; white; black

Additional Descriptors: flying, stinging, spots

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.