Don’t touch!

Watch out when touching hairy caterpillars. Not all of them are harmful, but some can cause an allergic reaction on your skin.

The Oat Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) caterpillar is one of those that needs to be treated with care. Touching the hair of the caterpillar is somewhat similar to touching nettles. To protect itself from predators, the caterpillar also builds its cocoon using the same hair.

I couldn’t resist testing what happens on my skin after gently rubbing the surface of the cocoon against my wrist. The reaction, a nasty, itchy allergy. The interesting part of the test was that the allergy remained for about 6 weeks, leaving a visible rush and occasional itch. The conclusion? Don’t touch!

Introducing nature

When I was a small kid my dad used to take the entire family into the nearby forest, showing us plants and animals. I still remember some of the creatures he introduced to us. That heritage is what I want to pass further to our kids, too.

Last summer our twin boys turned two. Just about the age when they start being able to focus on something they see, as long as it’s interesting enough. Caterpillars of hornworms are usually something kids like. Here’s some proof on how children react to real nature.

Caterpillars of the Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) are commonly brown. Rarely, there’s green ones, too, like in the video and photos below.

Beautiful caterpillars: The Small Emperor Moth

The Small Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia) is one of the most gigantic domestic species to the fauna in Finland. This counts not only for the adult moth but especially for it’s caterpillars. Here’s only a couple photos from the caterpillars I raised last summer after receiving eggs from a friend. Right now, the cocoons rest for diapause. The adult moths will hatch early summer 2016.

Colonial Feast

Some caterpillars live alone. In fact, they can’t stand the presence of other individuals of the same species. Others live in colonies. If the caterpillars are large in size such a colony can be quite a sight.

Buff-tip moth caterpillars reach a decent size. And if the conditions are right, they’ll spend all their life as a caterpillar in one huge colony. Quite a shock for any host plant (see photo below). If you’re focusing on feeding traces on a caterpillar quest you’ll definitely notice these.