Not everything that looks soft and cuddly is good to touch.  If you've ever had a run-in with an American Dagger Moth Caterpillar here in Montana, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

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What Is An American Dagger Moth Caterpillar?

It's a stage of life for the American Dagger Moth.  From Insect Identification:

About 50 mm (2 inches) long, it is completely covered in bright yellow/green bristles. Four long bunches of black bristles, like long eyelashes, extend from the body near the head and midsection. A fifth bunch of these extra-long, black bristles comes out near the rear of the caterpillar. The bristles break off and embed themselves into skin. Toxins stored inside the hairs have a stinging sensation if touched.

Can The Sting Kill Me?

Not likely.  It will, however, cause a burning and stinging sensation that can last for quite awhile.


What Do I Do If I Get Stung?  From WIKIHOW:

  • Remove the caterpillar without touching it
  • Use tape to remove the spines from your skin and clothes
  • Wash your hands and clothing
  • Treat the area with a hydrocortisone cream
  • Take allergy medicine
  • Apply a cold compress
  • If symptoms persist or worsen, go to a doctor

Where Do American Dagger Moth Caterpillars Live?

They eat tree leaves from oak, ash, elm, alder, willow and maple trees.  They can often be found on the ground.  They're active from Spring to early Autumn.

Prevention Tips

It's simple, look, photograph and do not touch.  If you don't touch them, they can't hurt you.

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