If you’ve seen a black fuzzy caterpillar somewhere in your garden, then that could either be a woolly bear caterpillar or a giant leopard moth caterpillar. They might look intimidating but are black fuzzy caterpillars poisonous?
No, black fuzzy caterpillars are not poisonous. They are, in fact, harmless. They don’t inject any venom.
There are two common types of fuzzy black caterpillars.
A woolly bear caterpillar may be all black or may sometimes have thick red stripes. Giant leopard moth caterpillars are almost identical, but their stripes are thinner. These caterpillars have stiff black spikes that make them look woolly, fuzzy, or spiky.
These spikes do not sting, nor are they poisonous.
These caterpillars are safe to hold as they don’t even bite. They’re completely harmless, and they’ll curl into a ball when touched. Their appearance is simply a facade to scare potential predators.
Where Can You Find Black Fuzzy Caterpillars?
You can easily find a fuzzy black caterpillar in your garden. Despite their unusual appearance, they’re pretty standard, in summer especially.
Black fuzzy caterpillars can appear on sunflowers, willows, magnolias and any food plant, such as cabbage or citrus trees. As you well know, caterpillars are not particularly fussy about the plants they visit. This is the case for black fuzzy caterpillars too!
They’re simple to identify as they have stiff black spikes that make them look very furry or spiky.
Do Black Fuzzy Caterpillars Bite?
Even if they look intimidating to you with their vibrant colours and spiky exterior, black fuzzy caterpillars do not sting or bite.
Although you can hold them, the spines could feel irritating on your skin because the spines break off into the skin after you’ve touched them, but the caterpillar won’t bite or sting you.
Their spines also ward off any nearby predator, like a bird, from picking them up.
Can Black Fuzzy Caterpillars Kill You?
Woolly bears and giant leopard moth caterpillars are entirely harmless; they won’t bite or sting you; they simply roll up into a ball and pretend to be dead if you pick them up.
The touch of their prickly skin seems uncomfortable to some, but that’s the most they can do.
Black fuzzy caterpillars can’t kill you. However, the caterpillars that can kill you are often simple but may have bright colours that make it obvious that these caterpillars want you to stay away.
Caterpillars, such as buck moth caterpillars (as shown below) or hag caterpillars, are extremely dangerous. These are also blackish in colour and have unusual spikes, but these spikes are more defined, and the caterpillars do not look fuzzy.
One thing that could be worrisome for you is that upon picking up a fuzzy black caterpillar, there could be some yellow liquid on your hand.
This yellow liquid is a defence mechanism of the caterpillar and not pee, so you don’t have to be grossed out or get worried.
This liquid is harmless and doesn’t irritate your skin, either. Still, you should wash your hands thoroughly after holding these caterpillars, as this liquid can be dangerous if accidentally ingested.
What Do Fuzzy Black Caterpillars Turn Into?
The two common black fuzzy caterpillars turn into two different moths depending on the type of fuzzy caterpillar it is.
If it’s a giant leopard moth caterpillar, then unsurprisingly, it’ll grow into a giant leopard moth.
These moths have three-inch wingspan and black circles on their white wings. It has a bluish-black tone on certain areas and some orange portions.
If the caterpillar is a woolly bear, it’ll become the Isabella tiger moth, a rare moth. It is caramel or rust-coloured, sometimes cream or yellow-coloured in appearance.
You may now know that most black and fuzzy caterpillars are not poisonous but do you have further questions about them? Then check these out:
Are Black Caterpillars Poisonous?
Most black caterpillars are not poisonous. If they have long hairs or barbs then they may cause some skin irritation, but it’s highly unlikely that they are poisonous nor can cause long-term harm.
Are Fuzzy Caterpillars Poisonous?
There is a vast range of fuzzy caterpillars, most are unlikely to be poisonous, but this is not the cause for all caterpillars. If you do not know what you’re handling, then avoid touching it.
Are Black and Orange Caterpillars Poisonous?
Most black and orange look menacing but it’s all in their appearance. They cannot cause you harm and are not known to be poisonous.
How Big Can Fuzzy Black Caterpillars Get?
Fuzzy black caterpillars are generally larger than your average caterpillar. Their thin black spines make them look even more prominent. Three inches is the maximum length these fuzzy caterpillars can grow to.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden