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Saddleback Caterpillar Moth (Acharia stimulea)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Saddleback Caterpillar Moth



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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Roger G., Jr from Milford, PA
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Image Credit: Jair D. from Charlotte, NC
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Saddleback Caterpillars have stinging spines that reinforce the wisdom in not touching something that looks so strange and spiky.



Updated: 01/31/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Saddleback Caterpillar is covered in short hairs that sting when touched, meant to deter predators from trying to eat it. These same hairs can sometimes leave a rash on a poking person, too. It is a member of the Slug Caterpillar Moth family and has suckers underneath the body in place of some legs. This allows it to defy gravity and walk along the underside of leaves and branches when feeding. This species is not a picky eater and feeds on a variety grasses, trees, and shrubs.

This highly unusual caterpillar becomes a dark brown moth and less conspicuous 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 two or three white spots near the tips of the wings. The summer season is its most active time of year.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Insect stinger icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Limacodidae
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          Genus: Acharia
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            Species: stimulea
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Acharia stimulea
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 26mm to 46mm (1.02" to 1.81")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: pruple; brown; white; black; gray
Descriptors: flying; stinging;caterpillar; white spots; velvet
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 26mm and 46mm
Lo: 26mm
Md: 36mm
Hi: 46mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
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State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
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State of Idaho graphic
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State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
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State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
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State of Tennessee graphic
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State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
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State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Saddleback Caterpillar Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Saddleback Caterpillar Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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