Stinging Nettle Caterpillar Facts
- The Stinging Nettle Caterpillar represents the common name for the caterpillar form of a moth in the superfamily Zygaenoidea.
- Scientists currently recognize roughly distinct species with this rather impressive superfamily of beautiful moths. However, additions to the family also remain under consideration.
- The rather impressive looking nettles for which the different species remain known can inflict significant pain. However, these pose no danger to humans.
- In some rare cases, however, dangerous allergic reactions to the compounds coating the tiny nettles can occur.
- In many parts of the world, perhaps most notably Hawaii, this invertebrate has also become an invasive species through the actions of international trade.
Stinging Nettle Caterpillar Physical Description
The lovely Stinging Nettle Caterpillar actually measures about twice the size of the moth it will mature into. As adult moths, individuals only reach about 0.5 in (1.27 cm) in length.
Yet, in the caterpillar stage, individuals commonly measure around 1 in (2.5 cm) long.
Several subspecies of the Stinging Nettle Caterpillar exist. Some boast bright colors, while others display light brown. The latter variety also presents a dark brown stripe down the length of its back.
The numerous sharp nettles serve as the defensive measure of the invertebrate. Each has a coating of histamine compounds, which create irritation on contact.
Species: D. pallivitta
Stinging Nettle Caterpillar Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The rather visually stunning Stinging Nettle Caterpillar now inhabits most parts of the world. However, the various species primarily inhabit the tropical latitudes.
Individuals typically grow quite flat in shape, and instead of feet, have tiny suckers on the undersides. These it uses in combination with a natural lubricant it secretes, for locomotion.
It will feed on a variety of plants including palms, grass, and ornamentals. The insect will typically consume the leaves, eating from the outer edges inward.