Hemileuca: Stinging Caterpillars
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Hemileuca are a genus of moths in the same family (Saturniidae) as the Giant Silkworm and Royal moths, and are collectively called Buckmoths.
There are approximately ten different species found in the United States. Many such as the Elegant Sheepmoth have colorful wings and/or bodies.
Hemileuca caterpillars are known to have stinging spines, making their identification an important health issue.
The two pictures on the page show some basic identification clues. Their bodies are usually hairless with the exception of patterns of small spines encircling the body segments.
The top picture shows hemileuca tricolor, a resident of Southern Arizona. The bottom picture shows Hemileuca eglanterina, the larvae of the Elegant Sheep Moth, a resident of Northern California and Southern Oregon.
© 2008. Patricia A. Michaels.