Two black and one yellow stripes run over the body of a spotted tussock caterpillar (Lophocampa maculata), evoking thoughts of a honey bee in our minds’ eye. Bees from the California branch of the species have an orange band across their abdomens instead of a yellow band; in eastern North America, the yellow region is indicated by small black dots on the abdomen. The species is not dangerous, but it is also not a harmless critter, which is particularly problematic for individuals who are sensitive to its toxins.



Allergic Reactions are a common occurrence.

Spotted tussock caterpillars are not regarded to be a serious environmental nuisance, but their bright colors may lure people to them and encourage them to handle them in certain cases. 


The hairs on their bodies, on the other hand, may be annoying to some people and might trigger allergic responses in others. Put on your gloves before taking one up. If you have any negative side effects, see your doctor.



During 2011, there were an abundance of tussock caterpillars (Erebidae family / formerly Lymantriidae) in Maine, and they were ‘itching’ for attention! One of the reasons for all of the attention they get (during the late summer and early autumn) is that the hairs on these caterpillars, regrettably, may produce a very painful rash on the skin. The prickly hairs serve as a protective mechanism. (they are not poisonous or venomous). 



We must emphasize that children are more vulnerable to the rash than adults, and youngsters are also far more likely to be playing with and touching these spectacular insects (due to natural curiosity, interest, or playing outside) than adults. It has been observed that the rash on the skin of some members of this group is just temporary, and that it clears up on its own within two or three hours.



 The rash may be far more severe and long-lasting in some species, however, such as the Hickory Tussock, and a visit to the doctor may be necessary to expedite one’s recovery and alleviate symptoms Of pain caused by the rash. The Browntail moth is also a member of the tussock group, which includes the tussock moth.




Tiger moths lay eggs that hatch into caterpillars that are heavily coated in hair and are popularly referred to as woolly bear caterpillars because of their appearance. The Spotted Tussock Moth larva is similar in appearance to a woolly bear caterpillar, but it has black mounds on its back and long white lashes on its wings, which are more often seen on Tussock moths. 



Tussock caterpillars are capable of stinging. This Tiger caterpillar, on the other hand, does not. Despite the fact that it has many different looks as it grows, the most common stage has black hairs on the head and back end that are divided by a yellow or red-orange band of hairs in the center of the body. 



This is the reason why the term ‘tussock’ is used in the popular name: black tussocks, or dome-like clusters of hair, form along the’spine.’ It is icy white or a tint of yellow on the underside, with long white lashes on the underside. 

Colorful dots of orange and black go down the back of the shirt. Another form is all orange, with a row of black tussocks running along the’spine’ of the plant.



Moths are most active throughout the spring and summer months. The forewings of these winged adults are brown with tan markings, and the body is brown as well.


 They are most often found in deciduous woods, where trees such as poplar and willow serve as hosts for the caterpillars as they develop. They also eat the leaves of trees such as maple, oak, and basswood. From the middle of summer until the beginning of October, keep an eye out for them.




A lot of inquiries regarding dangerous caterpillars have lately been sent to us. This is most likely due to recent reports of fuzzy tussock moth caterpillar sightings and reports of the caterpillars themselves. Let’s take a closer look at these enigmatic insects and attempt to dispel some popular misconceptions about them.




The difference between poisonous and venomous:


A toxic organism (or substance) is one that will injure you if you eat it, inhale it, or come into contact with it because it contains a toxin that will cause you harm. A venomous organism is one that actively injects a poison into the body via the bite or sting of another creature. 



The majority of dangerous creatures that you’ll likely meet in Ontario are plants or mushrooms, which are both native to the province.


There are four kinds of stinging caterpillars found in Ontario: (a) the buck moth, Hemileuca maia; (b) the Io moth, Automeris io; (c) the spiny oak slug, Euclea delphinii; and (d) the crowned slug, Isa textula. Buck moths are the most common stinging caterpillar in Ontario. 




Caterpillars in Ontario that might cause injury to humans come into two categories: those that sting locally and those that produce an allergic response or skin irritation. Caterpillars that produce localized stings are meaty, not fuzzy or hairy, as opposed to other types of caterpillars. 



They feature branching spines that protrude from various spots along their body, as well as spines that are related to venom glands, which makes them dangerous. Stinging caterpillars seen in Ontario include several species from the families Saturniidae (giant silkworm moths) and Limacodidae (giant silkworm moths), although not all of them (slug caterpillars). 


Some individuals have described the sensation of touching these spines as being comparable to that of being stung by a bee.


In Ontario, there are four kinds of caterpillars that may cause dermatitis: (e) the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar; (f) the whitemarked tussock moth, Orgyia leucostigma; (g) the hickory tussock moth, Lophocampa caryae; and, (h) the spotted tussock moth, Lophocampa maculata. 





These hairy caterpillars come from the families Lymantriidae (tussock moths) and Arctiidae (tussock moths) and are known to produce allergic reactions or irritation to the skin (tiger and wasp moths).



 Their hairs are attached to or contain venom glands, and as a result, they are exceedingly brittle and break quickly. These hairs may get entangled in your skin, causing itching and inflammation, or they can be inhaled, causing irritation in your airways and other organs. 


Different individuals may be more or less sensitive to these caterpillars depending on their genetic makeup.


When dealing with caterpillars, it is important to remember the following safety precautions:





Do not handle bugs that are prickly, spiky, or hairy, or those that are brightly colored. These signals are often used by animals to convey that they are not delicious or that they might cause injury. Some people are lying, but if you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t take a chance.




Caterpillars and pupae should not be consumed.

Teaching your children about points 1 and 2 above, as well as about safe methods to pick up bugs (such as taking up the branch, leaf, or other object that they’re sitting on, holding them in the palm of their hand without crushing them, and not caressing them, for example) should be a priority. This is critical since the majority of caterpillar-related medical complaints involve youngsters.




In the event that you or your kid becomes a victim of one of these caterpillars, do not panic. Despite the fact that we have toxic caterpillars in Ontario, they are not dangerous and will only cause momentary pain, rather than lasting injury.




If you come into touch with one of these caterpillars, keep these precautions in mind:


Both forms of caterpillar injuries need the same first aid treatment.

Remove any loose spines or hairs from the afflicted region by washing it well with soap and water.

Instead of using a towel, dry with the wind.

Remove any leftover spines or hairs by taping them down.

Apply ice to the area after treating it with rubbing alcohol.

As required, antihistamines or pain relievers should be used.



Insects play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy watershed. Find out what to plant in your yard to attract butterflies, moths, and bees by reading this article here.