AdviceHealth & Beauty

American Dagger Moths Can Be Toxic

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Beware of hairy yellow caterpillars with black spikes. They are American dagger moths that have have toxic properties when hairs are touched. One slight brush sent me to the ER with significant hives, elevated blood pressure, facial flushing, and chills.


I did some online research and learned that pets who innocently consume the caterpillars can also become ill enough to seek a vet's care. I am still afflicted with hives after three days and am dosing with Benedryl. One helpful hint is applying ice directly on hives and it has helped when topical cortisone and oral medications have fallen short relieving the itching.

You can Google search a photo and info about American Dagger moth and other toxic hairy caterpillars all over the US. I also found many other home remedies for hives.

By Kathy from Western PA

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October 15, 20080 found this helpful

Holy Cow! Never knew that and am glad you will be okay! Thanks for the heads up!

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By jamochalover (Guest Post)
October 17, 20080 found this helpful

You mentioned you had found home remedies for hives? Please share! :)

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July 30, 20170 found this helpful

Oddly enough, most of the research I was able to find did not mention this caterpillar's toxicity. Just that they are voracious eaters of many deciduous tree leaves. Are you absolutely certain that you may not have gotten hives from another source? I am mostly concerned because I am currently finding these caterpillars all the time in and around my garage.


I have two large maple trees in my front yard that are most likely the place they're coming from. We have moved them from the garage to the outdoors with bare hands and have not yet experienced any allergic reactions.

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September 16, 20170 found this helpful

My son came into contact with this caterpillar and has hives/rash going from his stomach to his one knee and had to go to the hospital. Benadryl and a cream is what he has been given. Hope this helps anyone.

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August 4, 20170 found this helpful

Glad I googled this caterpillar! Came across one of these on a sidewalk in north central Iowa. Have never seen one before.

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August 10, 20170 found this helpful

I was just stroking one today I didn't know it was poisonous it just crawled on me like I was a tree it didn't bitbpr do anything predatorial

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September 26, 20170 found this helpful

I found one yesterday while mowing here in Oklahoma, brought it home to identify/watch cocoon and emerge, and today my middle finger is sooooo itchy!

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