Who would guess that something so small and squishy could pack such a wallop? My poor friend Cheryl sure didn’t, and she ended up with a painful welt from a little guy a lot like this one:
The one she encountered was in her blueberry bush, and in my yard that’s where I usually find them, too. She felt it before she saw it, which is also what happens with me. The one I found today, though, was on the popcorn.
I was cutting the old stalks and leaves up for the compost pile, and happily, I was wearing gloves, AND I saw it in time to avoid the stinging hairs.
The saddleback page from the bugguide website shows the adult moth stage of this caterpillar’s lifecycle.
The University of Kentucky’s stinging caterpillars page includes other caterpillars to watch out for.
Interestingly, both pages mention that the saddleback is sometimes found on corn. I hadn’t seen it there before, but my own yard’s corn definitely was home to a saddleback caterpillar this morning!
The University of Kentucky site mentions that the sting can cause “severe irritation,” which seems like a huge understatement to me. The bugguide site’s description of the sting seems a little closer to the truth, calling it “lasting and painful.” Those two words are in line with my own experience.
My friend had never encountered one of these before, even though she is a Georgia-girl from birth. It took a dose of benadryl to reduce the size of the welt she got from the sting, so I hope she isn’t ambushed by another one of these ever again!