American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

American Dagger Moth caterpillar white with black setae crawling up wall  Saw this when I went out to open the garage door. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Turns out, it’s called an American Dagger moth caterpillar.

  “Instead, stinging caterpillars bear specialized nettling or urticaceous setae or spines. These structures are hollow and contain toxins from poison-gland cells to which they are joined. These are primarily defensive structures for protection of caterpillars from predators and other enemies. The sting inflicted on humans is not from a deliberate attack by the caterpillar, but the result of contact, usually inadvertent, with toxin-bearing setae or spines. When brushed against, these structures break away, releasing toxins. In some cases, broken setae may penetrate the skin; in others, toxins spill out to spread on the surface of the skin.” this excerpt taken from http://www.ag.auburn.edu/enpl/bulletins/caterpillar/caterpillar.htm

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