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Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Tent worm caterpillar. They are destructive, but still make for a nice photo.

By beesplace from Indiana PA

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April 13, 20100 found this helpful

If a rash occurs from handling the caterpillar, it is from an allergic reaction; not from the caterpillars bite. Any animal with a mouth is able to bite, but the pain you feel from the bite varies. The Eastern tent caterpillar have extremely tiny mouths that are meant only for eating leaves. They do not use them for any predatory act or self defense; making the bite harmless if it did occur. Although, they do not bite. The pinching feeling most people feel is the grab of the fore-arms.

I have collected over 50 caterpillars each year since my kindergarten teacher started me on it. I do not handle them much, for they are very sensitive and if squeezed too hard, a clear, yellow tented liquid will come from the caterpillars mouth causing death within 48 hours, but I do pick each one up by hand and sometimes end up holding them for long periods of time. Never have I received a rash from the caterpillars. In all my years of handling with them, if they were dangerous, I would have received a rash by now.

But don't try tasting them. If eaten, the caterpillars can be poisonous from certain plants they consume.

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