Caterpillars come in many sizes and colors depending on the species. A few appear treacherous with long, curving, spiky horns projecting from the body. Many have dull or bright colors with unusual looking patterns.
A caterpillar is the larval stage of butterflies and moths. The caterpillar hatches from a tiny egg and will eventually pupate and turn into an adult butterfly or moth.This larval stage usually lasts from two weeks to about a month.
The larval or caterpillar stage has many different names: inchworm, looper, cutworm, fruitworm, hornworm, silkworm, and even woolly bear. It is the growth stage, and thus the daily agenda is simple: eat!
Caterpillars mostly eat the leaves of flowering plants and trees using their powerful jaws. They are very limited in their diet and many species will only eat the leaves of a single type of plant. Only a few caterpillars are carnivores. Most caterpillars are discovered fully grown when wandering across lawns, driveways, or sidewalks.
The four major "stinging" caterpillars occurring in South Florida are the puss caterpillar, saddleback caterpillar, Io moth caterpillar, and hag caterpillar. Some less common ones also occur in the state. These caterpillars do not possess stingers, but have spines that are connected to poison glands. Some people experience severe reactions to the poison released by the spines and require medical attention, while others experience only an itching or burning sensation.
Do you live in South Florida and think that this pest may be invading your yard? Hulett Environmental Services offers specialty lawn care treatments designed to control and eliminate this pest!