Oasis Tree Care

Stinging Caterpillar Specialists

Quick Facts:

  • Single Generation per year.
  • Eats Leaves on Trees
  • Can deliver a nasty sting.
  • Can Be Treated
  • Oasis Tree Care
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Stinging Caterpillars and damage to your trees:

Stinging Caterpillar. A single generation of buck moths occurs each year. The adult buck moths have a flight period that occurs between October and November. The adults are active during the day and are very quick fliers, and can be found flying most commonly between noon and 2:00 pm in oak forests during sunny weather. After mating, the female oviposits in a ring around a branch of the host plant. The eggs overwinter on the host plant. The larvae hatch in the spring when new plant growth appears.
The larvae of this subfamily possess multi-branched urticating spines, which deliver a sting when touched. The severity of stings depends upon the species, and ranges from inducing immediate pain, severe itching, swelling, and redness, to causing death through hemorrhaging. Death from contact with Lonomia caterpillars often results from multiple venom exposures due to their gregarious feeding behavior.
The spines in the buck moth occur on raised, sclerotized (hardened) portions of the larva's cuticle that are known as tubercles and scoli. The spines found on these structures are associated with venom glands that occur within the caterpillar's body. The sting produces pain immediately, which then spreads to nearby lymphatic nodes. The caterpillar's sting then causes swelling and redness to occur. These symptoms can last for as little as a day to over a week.
The larvae of the Stinging Caterpillar feeds on oaks, and when it is present they preferentially feed on the scrub oak. (Credit: University of Flordia)