Tuesday, September 05, 2006

American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

At least that's what I think this is (aka Acronicta americana). Found this pretty, fuzzy yellow caterpillar on a leaf of a shrub in the garden (a purple-leaf sand cherry: Prunus cistena) back on August 24. It didn't seem to be dead, but neither did it seem very lively, not moving, not reacting much to a gentle prod.


Next day, it was still there, in the same spot, apparently not having moved at all.

Day after that, August 26, this is what I found:

Off with the old!

What you see in the picture is the caterpillar above and its castoff exoskeleton rolled up below. I knew that caterpillars shed their skins a few times before they were ready to move on to the next stage, but somehow didn't picture fuzzy ones such as this shedding them whole, like peeling off a fur coat to reveal another underneath.

The day after the last shot the caterpillar was gone--then later I saw a quite lively dagger moth caterpillar motoring across the front porch and into the front garden, a cat with purpose! Cindy of Woodsong has a good picture of the moth this one will be turning into here.

46 comments:

Borahlyn said...

I am thankful to have found your beautiful websight on this american dagger, I hope you can help me with my trouble with this amazing catepiller, here is my story...

About four days ago I found a American Dagger Caterpillar on the sidewalk whom was injured. He is surviving and lives but I am afraid he is paralyzed from the middle back down, I think he was hit with a bike. He looks like he might have an infection. I believe he will live, I have created a place for him in soil, bark with maple leafs to eat. Can he spin a cocoon if his back end is injured? Will it fall off and re-grow? What do I do in tending to its needs to keep it in the happiest conditions? I want this caterpillar to have a good life other than its unfortunate event. what can I do to provide all needs and keep the desires of a caterpillar in order to keep him in a place that is serene and happy?
Please pray for my caterpillar and help me help my caterpillar in his needs so I can take care of it for I am not educated in this field.

Please contact me at childsdevelopment@yahoo.com

With much sincerity and love from
Borahlyn and Golden wings

Anonymous said...

I was walking in my backyard to let my dogs in and I saw this fat yellow caterpillar with all theses black eyelash things. I live in northwest Illinois and Ive never seen anything like this in all the 22 years of living here. I didnt know if I should pick it up cause it looked poisonous almost, but I did know he needed to get out of the yard or he was gonna get eaten for sure. So I got a big stick and I moved him to the bushs. Ive been seeing what I swear is the same caterpillar almost everyday now in random spots. I noticed today he was a little bit lighter. I decided to go on line and after a ton of searching figured out what he was. After finding this page I decided to ask a few questions like 'Are these bugs common for my area?' and 'Is he poisonous or will he bite me if I pick him up?'. He is so cute. I mainly just leave him alone, but its a pain to grab something everytime I have to move him to a safe place. If you have any explanation email me @ marshmalowbunni@comic.com.

Thanks!

Corinne said...

I found the caterpillar on the door frame thought it must of got there buy a flewk. I keep putting him back into trees in the inside of the house he keeps coming back to the door we almost stepped on him 3 times I don't know how he does it theres a metal screen door over covering the side door. Finally I told my daughter I putting him in the grape vine in my yard. Hes back me and my daughter find him constanley . We decided to take him in then I looked up your site I thought it was a butterfly. Any sugguestions on caring for him? Corinne www.genuine102004@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

My puppy ate one of these caterpillars this morning and he's in the emergency room. He was throwing up foam and had labored breathing. They think he will be ok.

Anonymous said...

I just found one of these at these caterpillars at the park with my husband and children. I live in the Atlanta area of Georgia. Lilburn, to be exact. We did the old-fashioned thing, and brought him home to try to show my son a caterpillar life cycle. The caterpillar is beautiful, but the moth didn't really look that pretty to me (sorry to anyone who disagrees.) Hope he does well with us. I am excited about it.

dewsbury's said...

thanks your blog was a lot of help! I found one and wanted to know what it was!

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Anonymous said...

Two cousins (one local and one visiting from the UK) were in Mt. Prospect, Illinois at the park today. They found this beautiful yellow caterpillar with six black spikes. We looked it up and found that it was an American Dagger Moth Caterpiller. So the girls made a little home for it with leaves, grass, pine cones, sticks, and some water. We plan to keep it safe and watch it grow!

Anonymous said...

I came across your site looking to find out more about the caterpillar we discovered. Many Thanks.
My 10 year old son found one of these in early July in our backyard (Chicago suburb). It's white (or light cream) with black spikes (hairs). It likes to eats leaves from our Sugar Maple tree in it's new home as we watch him mature.

Erin said...

Wow, cool, I was wondering what we have... My husband found this little guy on our driveway this afternoon, and put him in my son's backyard habitat... After a little crawling around in there we got some sticks and leaves and now he is spinning his cacoon! So cool that my son can see this up close! My son is 4 and loves bugs. I'm wondering how long he will be in his cacoon before becoming this moth? Thanks!

Erin said...

Oh, we're in Southern WI.

Anonymous said...

We found one of these by our doorstep this morning. I let me 2 year old son look at it and play with it. Bad idea-my son said ouch and the next thing I knew his hand swelled up. Later this evening I took his shirt off to give him a bath and he has hives all over his body. These caterpillars should not be played with or handled because they will sting. I just hope it is not more serious then this.

Anonymous said...

i live in erie and i was bit or stung by one so if your reading this and see one kill it dont touch it and im serious

Pamela Martin said...

It sounds like either these caterpillars do sting, or else some people are allergic to them--I haven't found any good information to back up either hypothesis though. In general, don't play with caterpillars, no matter your age.

But please, please, don't kill anything just because it might sting if you pick it up. Leave it be....in fact, whenever you're in doubt about whether something is safe to touch, taste, whatever, just leave it be!!!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I have a problem. I found an American dagger moth about 5 weeks, maybe more, ago. When I first got it I looked up what it ate and I gave it some leaves, which it ate. I also gave it some dead twigs to crawl on. The next day I saw it making a cocoon. I looked up online again that it ate the bark off of trees to make the string, which made sense because some of the dead twigs were bare. I went back online to see how long it would be in a cocoon and the websites said about 3 weeks. About 6 weeks later, yesterday, It was still in the cocoon and part of the twig that it was on was broken off, my sister knocked the container to the ground by accident, and I could see inside. I saw its head and when a stirred the cocoon it didn't move, it was also dull, not glossy. I figured that scince it was in the cocoon twice as long as normal, it was dead. I wanted to do an expirment, to see what it looked like on the inside, so i broke off the rest of the twig and cut open the cocoon. I saw that acually the head had fallen off and the rest of the bug was half morphed, but dull black/brown. I used twisers to pick it up and I saw its little rump start to wiggle around. IT IS STILL ALIVE! I feel like an asshole for doing this to the poor thing. Can caterpillars survive outside of the cocoon? Isn't it just a sheild from predators? PLEASE HELP ME, I FEEL SO AWFUL!

Anonymous said...

I have this caterpillar in a cocoon on my porch, its been about 2 weeks since it finished its cocoon. I wanted to open it thinking its dead but I guess not? I will give it another week or so and see what happens. I just dont want to be like that last guy and have it still be alive :[. I dont know Im from southeast michigan and its been getting pretty cool at night, so im thinking it might stay there for the winter? i dont know, if it doesnt hatch soon I will move it inside.
if anyone knows how long it might be in there please let me know!

chirobingo@aol.com
thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am a concerned mother and want to get the word out- my 3 year old son played with one of these and got hives all over his body. His lip also swelled up so huge and I took him to the doctor. I have been trying to find information on this caterpillar being poisenous and have seen quite a few posts from other people about them being poisenous to people/dogs... but am still searching for nore scientific info about these caterpillars.

Anonymous said...

My little sister and I found a American dagger moth, almost two weeks ago...maybe more... It's in the crysillis stage now. I can't wait to see what it looks like!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading th other comment, and thak goodness! I'm not letting my little sister play with one now! Good thing I was to squemish to touch it....(we used a stick to pick i up.) So if your readng these DON'T TOUCH THAT CATIPILLAR!

Anonymous said...

I saw one of these in my skate shops just scootin along as i was sweeping cute little fellow put him in one of the trees near by hope he has a good life :)

Anonymous said...

Got lucky... My son and I were both touching one a few days ago. He even went as far as to pick it up and place it in the tree near our home. I assume the hives would have showed by now? He is super allergic, with really bad asthma, so we definitely got lucky *whew*

Anonymous said...

My daughter had one of these on her thigh the other day and complained that it bit her. She had some sort of yellow secretion on both her legs. That night....hives all over her hands and thighs. Very scary and uncomfortable for her! We're on day 2 of very itchy, very large hives and they don't seem to be going away any time soon. From what I've been reading it sounds these suckers bite!

Anonymous said...

My son found this same caterpillar on Long Island on a big rock. We brought it home, put it in a big jar with some bark, and red maple leaves. He crawled all around for about three hours. He seemed to be on a mission! And in the fourth hour he atarted chewing the bark, spitting it out and building a cocoon at the same time on the other side of the bark. Very cool to watch! Then my son cried for the next two hours because he just lost his new best friend!! Couldn't this bug wait a few days because he put himself to "sleep".

Ashley said...

I was in my backyard, and I saw this caterpillar climbing on my house. It looked poisonious to me, so I used a stick to pick it up. I've never seen anything like that in New York, and I've lived there for 20 years! So I put the caterpillar in a box, took pictures, then let it go.

Anonymous said...

One of these fell out of a tree and landed on my shoulder, i immediately felt like I was bit or stung. I started to feel really ill later on in the day, but didn't make the connection. The following day I found that I was covered in hives on the spot where it landed and also on my side, I have had alot of pain in my legs, neck and back also. I have been taking Benadryl and after five days, I am finally starting to feel better. Be very careful, do not handle these caterpillars.

Bob said...

I saw this caterpillar on the blanket I was going to lie down on, so I flicked it about 3 feet away with a stick. About an hour later(I didn't see it since I had taken off my glasses), it had found its way back to my lap and had been sitting there for several minutes, judging by the itching that I didn't check on. When I finally saw it, I flicked it away with my hand. Big mistake! It left hairs in my hand that stung and itched like fury, and left yellow powder on my pants. My legs have a big hive-covered area on them, but aren't as bad as my hands. I pulled the hairs out with tape, which feels pretty good, and took antihistamine, which I hope helps.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know if this caterpillar is poisonous? My 9 year old son found one and after playing with it for a couple minutes he rubbed his mouth and had a severe allergic reaction. Is that possible? We live is southeastern Ontario. thanks!

Nicole said...

i found an american dagger and picked it up with my bare hands it did not sting me.

Anonymous said...

I live in Port Hope Ontario and I found one of these caterpillars,it didn't sting or bite me,maybe I was just lucky.you hve to be very gentle when handeling any kind of caterpillar.I raise monarch caterpillars for a hobby.It's best to use a small paint brush when handeling them.

Anonymous said...

I acquired a couple of these caterpillars a few days ago by a couple of small neighborhood boys who had found a nest of them and were selling them for $1. Very beautiful, but they must have some sort of poison or irritant on their "fur" because after just a few minutes of letting them crawl on my arms, I broke out in hives. I had to take some benadryl and use hydrocortisone cream. I still have the itchy hives and it's been 3 days. I didn't necessarily feel them "biting" or "stinging" me, though, as others have posted and my 9 year old son briefly handled one and has not had any kind of reaction. Weird...is it just some kind of irritant on their fur that not everyone is sensitive to? We went ahead and kept them, made them a little habitat, but have not handled them directly since that first day. Both caterpillars have already formed their cacoons! Pretty cool...other than the itchy part! Never occured to me that you shouldn't handle certain kinds of caterpillars!

Terra said...

Ok, my girls have one of these...in a "cage" out back - it has all the proper arrangements but for the last WEEK it has barely moved. It is obviously alive but HELLO - I found your site and saw that yours did this then shed its skin..do you have any other words of wisdom?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all this information....we are in Jackson Michigan and my 5 year old & I were walking and came across this yellow spiked caterpillar. We found this under the acorn tree just roaming around. We picked him up with sticks and brought him home to show my 10 year old.

Anonymous said...

I was building a deck last week, in South West Ohio,and had seen a bright yellow caterpillar with black spikes crawling around most of the day. Stayed clear of it-so I thought. When I was loading my truck to leave I felt like something bit me on my upper arm. When I brushed it off it was that **** yellow caterpillar. My arm itched a bit but not too bad. Ten minutes later my arm was burning. I had to take off my shirt while I was driving. By the time I got home I had welts all over my arm and shoulder/back. Took a cool shower and applied 1% hydrocortisone creme. Cleared it up in a couple of hours.

Anonymous said...

I live in Louisville, KY and I saw an American Dagger Month Caterpillar on our garage door 3 days ago (10/28/09).
I had never seen one before - quite beautiful - are they "native" to my area? I called it a wooly worm and I'm wondering if it's presence may indicate some unusual weather patterns for us. Since we had the Hurricane breeze through our great city one year ago in September of 2008 - nothing would surprise me.

Anonymous said...

My kids found one in our driveway. We put it in a bug container in our house w/ some grass and a stick. 1 day later he spun his cocoon and we are looking forward to seeing the dagger moth. Thanks for the warnings about the dangers of handling it. My kids listened to that one. We also have 10 painted lady cocooons from BugLore. They all might "bloom" at the same time.

Anonymous said...

My 6 year son found an American Dagger Moth Caterpillar and put it in a butterfly cage with leaves for it to eat and a stick to form its chrysallis. It soon formed its chrysallis. It has now been over 2 weeks, maybe 3 in the chrysallis. We are wondering if it is still alive. How long does it take for the adult to emerge fom the chrysallis?

We've hatched butterflies before. This is our 1st moth.

Into bugs in
Middletown, IN

Anonymous said...

I saw one of these and immediately looked it up and then set it on fire with a fireplace match when I found out they are poisonous and eat the bark and leaves of our maple trees. It reared back in the most aggressive stance I have ever seen for a catterpillar, it actually struck the match like a snake and has large "incisors/pincers" thank god I got rid of this one before any kids got him, especially if poisonous on top of agressive. I am used to burning lots of tent catterpillars.

Anonymous said...

I notice most or even all these comments are from the States I live in Ontario, Canada. Brampton to be exact and about an hour ago I was in my back yard and seen one of these on my back step. Now me being afraid of anything that crawls or flys, I screamed for my 11 year old daughter to come and investigate...lol...she took one look at it and told me DO NOT touch it and now that I have read earlier comments on this page I am pleased that I for a change obeyed my 11 year old. Is it normal to find one of these where I live???

Anonymous said...

I live in upper michigan almost at the tip of the u.p. I found one of these caterpillar things today. I was hanging clothes on the line and i almost stepped on it. I have never seen a caterpillar like this so i wanted to save it for my 2 year old to watch. i grabbed a stick and put in a jar. I still have it just not sure what to do with it. I am so glade i put it in the jar and didn't touch it. I am also glad that i found it and not my son. he picks up everything. does anyone know where these are coming from and where they are native to.

Anonymous said...

I found one of these caterpillars and so I looked it up on-line. I wasn't sure if i should touch it or not, but I took the risk. I didn't play with him a lot. (I did'nt even play with him!) i wasn't sure if I was allergic so I put him right back. Can anybody tell me if they know anything. Thx:).

- Azrael said...

I found one of these during camping.. the area was filled with birds and other animals that prey on caterpillars, so we brought it home. It's in a large, plastic cat litter tub right now, and it has formed a cocoon on the bottom of the tub.
We've had this caterpillar for a month and a half, give or take.. and he's still not out. I don't want to kill it if it IS alive, but I also don't want a dead caterpillar in my room. I noticed that it has yellow still in the cocoon. It's been yellow in the same spots for about a month. What do I do? Is there a problem with it having its cocoon on the floor of the tub? I just really need some help right now :(

Anonymous said...

I'm noticing a lot of confusion if this species bites. There are 2 different yellow fuzzy caterpillars. The American dagger catepillar is fuzzy, yellow with 4 black spikes and a black tuft on it's rear with black head. It can cause a rash when touched. The tussock moth catepillar is fuzzy, yellow, has black and spiky tufts of fur and red head. This catepillar bites, causes swelling and pain to site, hives/allergic reaction. I hope this helps clear up some confusion.

Anonymous said...

I just found one of those adorable little buggers, and it almost chewed my face off. Thank goodness all these helpful stories helped me realize that caterpillars are not toys, as much as they are living, breathing flesh eating beings.
Ancient Chinese secret, slip furry yellow bug under enemy pillow for fast revenge.

mr whiskerz said...

i found 1 of these at a local park well 1 i touched it right away (lol not smart)and about 15 mnutes later started itching i got some cream and benedryl then i was fine so i decided to keep him i look him up online and figured that these things only caused rashed if handled heads up were plastic gloves it worked with me and ive been fine hes really fum i even gave him a name mr whiskers

beaverski said...

I found one of these two days ago (8/1/12) here in Central New York State. I picked it up and pretty soon the little guy was crawling up and down my arm. I handled it several times and even tried to get him to open up when he curled up into a ball. No bites, stings hairs sticking in me and he seemed fine with me gently handling him. I put him on my car for safe keeping as I cut the grass. Don't know where he is now. Would never have thought anything about picking up a cute fuzzy caterpillar. Will probably do it again even after readig this.

Anonymous said...

9/27/13 I was walking up my driveway today & caught a glimpse of something yellow on the side of my house. On closer inspection, the bright yellow turned out to be a rather large (2") fuzzy caterpillar with prominent black spikes protruding from its back. I live in eastern Pa & have NEVER seen anything like this (& I am outside a lot.). The spikes told me not to touch. I took a few photos of Mr. F. Y. Caterpillar & he even crawled towards my camera. Friendly? I offered him some boxwood b4 letting him continue his journey up the side of my house. BTW, a few nights ago I noticed a beautiful large moth resting outside on the glass near our front door. Wonder if it was Fuzzy Yellow's older sibling?

Anonymous said...

I found one in my backyard.I'm glad I didn't pick him up or I would have gotten a rash. :]