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How To Get Rid of Saddleback CaterpillarsThe Saddleback caterpillar

While not the prettiest looking insect, most caterpillars are relatively harmless. While it’s understood that insects such as bees, wasps and ants like to sting when irritated or disturbed or to defend themselves, few realize that the caterpillar can do the same, especially a type known as the Saddleback caterpillar. While the average caterpillar looking hairy in a way with little spines hooks, those spikes are usually harmless and superficial. Stinging caterpillars like the saddleback caterpillar on the other hand, have hollow hairs that look similar to a quill and are connected to poison sacs.

These hairs are mainly for self-defense and can prick the skin and release a poison to anyone who dares to touch the saddleback caterpillar. Usually a homeowner doing gardening outdoors will encounter a saddleback caterpillar and get “stung” by their hairs while picking up leaves. If these stinging caterpillars have become a problem in and around your home, we have the solution to make sure that it’ll be the last rodeo for those Saddlebacks.

Saddleback Caterpillar Background Information


The saddleback caterpillar has a unique appearance that is quite interesting. They are a two-headed slug with the heads on opposite ends of its body and they have an eye in the middle of their backs, which is a mixture of dark purple and brown.  The eye consists of a large dark purple-brown oval with a thin white border in a block of green. The green rectangle resembles a saddle blanket, which is why they earned their name as “saddleback”. They’re vivid bright coloring may be loud and attention-grabbing but the reason for their outlandish look is to warn predators that they are poisonous and will sting to protect itself.


The saddleback caterpillar mainly feeds off of trees and shrubs and are found prominently along the eastern side of the United States. Some of the more common trees that they like to eat off of are dogwood trees, elm trees, maple, and oak trees. Saddleback caterpillars also like fruit bearing trees like the apple and orange tree. They can occasionally also be found on corn.


Saddleback caterpillars eventually grow into moths but surprisingly not enough people realize that they can actually grow into moths. When they do become a moth, few would even guess that the moths and the caterpillars are the same species due to how differently both are colored. The moth is dark brown with only a little white coloring compared to the greens and purples of the caterpillar.


Tips To Control Saddleback Caterpillars


Saddleback caterpillars are more of a concern outside of the house in gardens and flowerbeds. It’d be a rarity that they make there way inside a home. Saddleback caterpillars are found on shrubs and flowerbeds and on the underside of leaves. Even the slightest brush up against one or trying to flick one of these pests off of a leaf can sting you, causing intense pain and even feelings of sickness from the poison injected.


If you are ever to encounter one outdoors, use an object such as a stick if you need to remove one of these caterpillars from a plant or from your body. Heavy leather gloves are another option, but caution should be used. Children often may be tempted to pick up this caterpillar and play with it, so warn them to stay away from all colorful fuzzy caterpillars (no matter how fun they might look) because it is difficult to tell which are poisonous and which are harmless.


A person pricked by a saddleback caterpillar should wash the affected area immediately and remove any insect hairs and poison that remain. An ice pack will help reduce swelling, and creams and lotions containing steroids will lessen the discomfort and promote healing. Persons known to be sensitive to insect stings should see a doctor promptly. Saddleback caterpillars rarely occur in sufficient numbers to be considered plant pests, but people who do gardening work often should learn to recognize them and avoid touching them.


Solutions Recommendations For Saddleback caterpillars


Saddleback caterpillars don’t normally cause a large infestation but if you happen to have a population of saddleback caterpillars about, you can spray insecticides on infested shrubs and trees to eliminate or reduce the caterpillars.  


Some of our recommended products include: Essentria IC3 Natural Pesticide,  Evergreen Pyrethrum Dust 1%, and Acelepryn G Insecticide.These products are effective and use natural ingredients so they will not be harmful to use around pets and children.


Browse these products below and order now! If you have any questions, we are always here to help you via phone or email.

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