Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths, and they come in all shapes, colours, and sizes. If you came across a white fluffy-looking caterpillar, you’d probably find it cute, and you want to touch it, but is it safe to touch a caterpillar like that? Do white caterpillars bite? And do they have venom?
No, white caterpillars don’t bite and are beautiful to look at, but beneath their furry exterior, they have venom that can give you severe allergic reactions.
White caterpillars may be really cute and pretty to look at, and you may want to touch one, but it is highly recommended to avoid touching it no matter how fluffy it looks.
A white caterpillar, such as the White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar, has toxic pincushion hairs on its exterior. These are the fluffy hair you see on the caterpillar. When you come in contact with this hair on the caterpillar, the hair can become embedded in your skin, meaning they get stuck in you.
It’s hard to get rid of the hair once you made contact. This results in a severely irritating and itchy rash. The caterpillar’s fluffy hair is a defensive mechanism used against predators to scare them off.
Are White Caterpillars Dangerous?
White fluffy caterpillars are dangerous because upon getting in contact with their skin, you can get a severe allergic reaction and intense, annoying itching.
The areas that are affected tend to be around the neck, inner arms, and stomach. An example of such a kind of white caterpillar is the White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar. The hair on its body is a defensive tactic against predators that it also uses against you.
When the hair is embedded in the skin, it causes a dermal reaction, but the reaction depends on what kind of skin you have. The reactions vary in different skin types. The reactions are diverse.
It can either be a simple rash that’ll itch a lot or a severe oozing pustule. Luckily, these caterpillars are easy to avoid if you’re well aware of what they look like.
Are White Caterpillars Poisonous?
Most people think about bees, wasps, and hornets that can sting with venom. Whenever you hear the word sting or venom, you’d probably think about these insects. However, no matter how innocent and non-threatening a caterpillar may appear to be, there are quite a handful of different species of caterpillars that are poisonous and can sting you.
Identifying these types of caterpillars is simple. If you see any caterpillar that is brightly coloured, has extra-long appendages, has a lot of hair, is fluffy, or has an unusual and bizarre look, then most probably all of these caterpillars will be poisonous.
Such caterpillars are the White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar, White Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar, and Black and White Tussock Moth Caterpillars.
All these caterpillars are fluffy and white in appearance and are very poisonous. Their hair are long quills that can get stuck in your skin and cause you to have intense itching and other allergic reactions depending on your skin type.
The Black and White tussock Moth Caterpillars also have a poisonous chemical defensive manoeuvre at their disposal to scare away any predator that comes too near them and their quills.
When someone accidentally holds them or touches them without knowing what they are, they suffer from an itchy, nettle type and burning rash. The rash can be mild or moderate in severity.
Often people use soap and water to wash and clean the affected area and apply calamine lotion or savlon to the area and then lastly, icing the affected area seems to help with the itching and rashes and heals it quicker.
However, it isn’t the same with everyone, and some people are hypersensitive and will get severe allergic reactions to it. Some people also get swelling and nausea with severe allergies and itching.
Other White Caterpillars
The Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar is a rather small to medium-sized yellowish-white caterpillar. It has fluffy hair like other white caterpillars and two pair of pencil-thick orange and white hairs on both ends of its body.
The American Dagger Moth Caterpillar is a pale yellow caterpillar with a lot of tufts on its body, similar to a pencil. This caterpillar isn’t venomous, but contact with its quills may cause itching.
Fall webworms are white furry caterpillars that like to spin webs around the area they reside in. These are very destructive pests.
Caterpillars look harmless and sometimes cute, but wasps and bees aren’t the only insects you should associate with stinging as these harmless and cute-looking caterpillars can just be as poisonous and dangerous as bees, wasps, and hornets.
With their long hair, they can easily sting you with venom if you got too close. Avoid touching these types of caterpillars, especially the white ones, to avoid allergic reactions and infections.
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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