Saddleback Caterpillar

Acharia stimulea

The saddleback caterpillar, ''Acharia stimulea'' , is the larva of a species of moth native to eastern North America. The species belongs to the family of slug caterpillars, Limacodidae.
Saddleback Caterpillar - Acharia stimulea I was SO excited to find this caterpillar in my mother's garden this weekend! 

The caterpillars have a truncated, slug-like body that is not typical of other lepidopterans. The prolegs are concealed under the ventral surface of the body.  They have aposematic coloring with dark brown anterior and posterior ends with a contrasting bright green pattern blanketing the dorsal midsection.

It is a medically significant insect due to the presence of venomous, urticating spines and hairs! These hairs/spines  secrete an irritating venom that causes a painful, swollen rash and nausea in humans.

Habitat: Spotted in a rural, backyard garden.
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/66752/saddleback_caterpillar_-_acharia_stimulea.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/66751/saddleback_caterpillar_-_acharia_stimulea.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/66750/saddleback_caterpillar_-_acharia_stimulea.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/66749/saddleback_caterpillar_-_acharia_stimulea.html Acharia stimulea,Fall,Geotagged,Saddleback,Saddleback Caterpillar,United States,caterpillar,larva,limacodid moth,slug moth

Appearance

The caterpillar is primarily green with brown at either end and a prominent white-ringed brown dot in the center which resembles a saddle. It has a pair of fleshy horns at either end. These and most of the rest of the body bear urticating hairs that secrete an irritating venom. Contact with the hairs causes a painful, swollen rash and sometimes nausea in humans. The hairs should be removed from the skin immediately to prevent more venom spread. The cocoon may also have irritating hairs and hairs from the larva can fall on surrounding objects.

The adult is a dark brown, stout-bodied moth.
Acharia stimulea This is a picture of a Acharia stimulea on the South Tract of the Patuxent Research Refuge near Laurel, Maryland. Acharia stimulea,Geotagged,Saddleback Caterpillar,Summer,United States

Food

The larva feeds on a large variety of plants. In Florida and Alabama, it feeds on ornamental palms such as the Manila palm.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyLimacodidae
GenusAcharia
SpeciesA. stimulea