If there’s one thing about gardening that keeps you on your toes, it’s probably the abundance of critters that like to show up on your crops.
While many critters are harmless insects that do nothing but support a healthy ecosystem, others have some painfully defensive tricks up their sleeves.
Thankfully, Instagrammer and gardening expert, Joshua Meekins (@the_garden_is_growing), has called attention to one specific funky-looking caterpillar with a scary secret. “The scariest-looking thing I’ve seen in the garden,” he remarks.
This caterpillar, aptly named the saddleback caterpillar, sports a vibrant green body with a plethora of bristles and a small brown oval on its back, mimicking a little saddle.
Its line of defense, however, lies within the prickly bristles. It can be very painful if they make contact with the skin, as Meekins points out.
The bristles extending from the caterpillar’s body are actually poisonous hairs. They can create a sharp pain “as bad as a bee sting” and can last “one to two days” when touched, Meekins explains.
The symptoms can even go as far as inducing nausea, alluding to the mighty power this tiny creature holds.
Joshua’s highlight of the saddleback caterpillar provides an important lesson in gardening awareness.
How it’s helping
Keeping an eye out for critters in the garden is always a smart idea. When encountering an animal or insect you don’t recognize, though, it’s important to be cautious.
It’s best to keep a safe distance away from saddleback caterpillars and other unknown creatures, especially when it’s easy to accidentally rub against them.
Continuing to have appreciation and respect for critters making up your garden’s biodiversity is key.
What everyone’s saying
There was no shortage of commenters fascinated by their newfound knowledge of the saddleback caterpillar.
“They look otherworldly,” said one user.
“Close up, they look like something out of a SciFi movie,” commented another.
Some users even shared their own experiences with saddleback encounters.
“I got stung by one and it hurt … always look before gardening!” warned a commenter.
“They hurt so bad! Much worse than bee sting for me,” shared another.
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