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Friday, May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020

Location: Fellsmere, my house

I'm an adult Saddleback Caterpillar Moth,
I'm different than when I was a young squirt
I was a green and red caterpillar with venomous spines,
That could cause you a whole world of hurt.

Note: Knowing that some butterflies, such as the Monarch are poisonous as caterpillars, and retain this poison as adults, I was curious if any venomous properties are retained from the spines in the adult Saddleback moth. I sent mail to Dr. Christopher S. Bibbs, the author of the article linked below and he responded with the following:

"The adult moth is harmless. Urticaria is an unusual phenomena among insects, and essentially requires that the venom be delivered via capillary action through almost fiberglass like tubes internal to the spines. Because of this way of delivering, adult moths simply lack the physical ability to “sting” like the caterpillars do.

The only exception I am aware of is the Cecropia moth. These have limited to virtually no occurrence in Florida, but are quite common nocturnal moths in the northeastern US. They have a scant few little spines on the abdomen, but it isn’t very good at using them.

Rest assured that the moths of any other urticating species in the US (flannel moths, puss moths, io moths, etc.) have harmless adults."

Sources: UF | IFAS Featured Creatures Saddleback Caterpillar

Photo and text © 2020 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

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