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Fall is always a welcome sight as the year goes by. The nice temperatures along with the beautiful leaves and weather makes this season a popular one.
Unfortunately, another being likes the cool breeze as well: The Saddleback Caterpiller!
The saddleback caterpillar, Sibine stimulea, is the larva of a species of moth native to eastern North America. The species belongs to the family of slug caterpillars, Limacodidae. It is also known as the "packsaddle".
The caterpillars are primarily green with brown at either end, and a prominent, white-ringed brown dot in the center which resembles a saddle, hence the name. They feed on a large variety of plants, and the adults are dark brown, stout-bodied moths. In Florida, they are known to feed on ornamental palms such as the Adonidia merrilli (Christmas palm).
These caterpillars have a pair of fleshy "horns" at either end, and these, like much of the body, bear urticating hairs that secrete an irritating venom. Stings can be very painful. They can cause swelling, nausea, and leave a rash that can last for days. Individuals with sensitive skin are cautioned against coming into contact with them as the reaction can be more severe than the typical reaction.
In Milton, saddlebacks lay claim to any number of hardwoods; from maples to oaks. Bottom line is to be aware for both yourself and your loved ones. These caterpillers will sting worse than a hornet and multiple times!