The World’s Most Dangerous Caterpillars

Caterpillars of the moths of the genus Lonomia are probably the most dangerous caterpillars in the world accounting for more than 350 deaths between 1989 and 2005.

Butterflies are beautiful but some of their larvae, called caterpillars are very dangerous and can lead to death within minutes of being exposed to the hairs. The most dangerous caterpillars in the world are those of moths belonging to the genus Lonomia which can cause death within minutes of exposure to the venom found in their hairs. These caterpillars are said to have led to more than 350 deaths between 1989 and 2005.

Caterpillar hair generally contains venom which can cause dangerous problems to human health including: -

  1. Dermatitis – Caterpillar hairs are known to result in erosive skin inflammation or dermatitis which may damage the aesthetic value and texture of the skin.
  2. Urticaria – A type of dermatitis occurring on the skin in which rashes occurring as reddish and raised itchy bumps that are very painful.
  3. Osteochondritis – Some caterpillars are known to cause the inflammation of bone and cartilage.
  4. Coagulopathy – Some caterpillars cause a bleeding disorder in which blood clotting mechanisms fail leading to excessive loss of blood.
  5. Internal hemorrhage – Some species like those of the genus Lonomia have caterpillars that cause intracranial hemorrhage, leading to death within thirty minutes.
  6. Renal failure – The Lonomia genus has several species of moths whose caterpillars are toxic enough so as to cause kidney failure and eventually death.
  7. Conjunctivitis – The sharp hairs found on caterpillars can enter the skin and membranes such as those in the eyes leading to inflammatory reactions.

Would you rather be stung by caterpillars or be bitten by a cobra? The danger posed by both is nearly equal with caterpillars being associated with 1.7% deaths from their toxicity while cobras account for 1.8%. The chances of encountering venomous caterpillars is however larger.

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43 Responses to “The World’s Most Dangerous Caterpillars”
  1. suhail Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    neat article and some really sweet images :P


  2. 8Shei8 Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    An interesting article. I certainly did not think they are dangerous.


  3. drelayaraja Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Very good share shilaho… Great compilation. They seem to be Halloween things..


  4. Wiggles18 Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I hate poisonous little critters like these. However, I loved the article about them :D .

    I would have to say I would rather die from a cobra bite, than from a caterpillar, it would just seem emasculating to say a man died from a fuzzy little ‘pillar. The cobra on the other hand sounds pretty manly.


  5. Anupatil Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I didn’t new about such a thing, nice to read this article.


  6. N. Sun Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Thanks for the info. I hope I never run into caterpillars or cobras.
    Thankfully, caterpillars grow into beautiful butterflies :)


  7. yes me Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Scary wee beasties eh… cheers Leo


  8. Aiyanna Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Now that is what I call a learning!!! Had a taste of one or two caterpillars like this as a child and they caused skin irritation… But these are worse… Thank you for spreading the awareness…


  9. albert1jemi Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    great share


  10. Ruby Hawk Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I didn’t know caterpillars are poisonous, I’m surprised we haven’t been stung.


  11. Tulan Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    golly, I didn’t know that.


  12. CA Johnson Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    This was a really informative article. That is pretty scary to think that caterpillars can be this dangerous. I didn’t realize that they can cause so many health problems to people.


  13. giritharanj Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    nice share – gj


  14. sloanie Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Excellent colourful photos and a really informative read, thank you. I’ve learnt a lot from this article.


  15. Sharif Ishnin Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    We can avoid caterpillars since there are pretty colorful I’m glad I stayed away from them all these years. Didn’t know they are so deadly.


  16. Anuradha Ramkumar Says...

    On November 1, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Gr8 share. I never knew these are so poisonous.


  17. Brenda Nelson Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 12:01 am

    In Canada we have a very dangerous caterpillar, more dangerous than any you have mentioned.

    They are yellow, weight several tons, and are used for moving earth. (Machines that are called caterpillars)


  18. LoveDoctor Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Caterpillars are venemous animals. This was a very interesting article. I learned about the different types of skin diseases they carry. Good visual images.


  19. giftarist Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Highly informative piece and interesting!


  20. papaleng Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Bravo, well-done Jimmy. first time to see you venture on Scienceray. Great photos to compliment a well-presented post.


  21. Starpisces Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 9:46 am

    wow, so beautiful, though dangerous, don’t look like real, my hair stand when I view them… the 1st and 2nd look like hairclips, no. 6 looks like a brush for washing basin.
    :)


  22. Raj the Tora Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Superb compilation. This again proves that beauty is equivalent to death! Love to watch these beauties, but would not touch them. Great job Jimmy.


  23. Shepta Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    hallo, you have good article,
    see my new article about disaster and dream,
    thanks,
    http://www.triond.com/users/Shepta


  24. ninjablade Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks for the info. That’s some creepy stuff.


  25. icyheat Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    nice share


  26. researchanalyst Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    nice photos who knew catepillers could be dangerous


  27. researchanalyst Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    nice photos who knew caterpillers could be dangerous


  28. J M Lennox Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Wow – fabulous article. I had no idea caterpillars could be so nasty.


  29. fishfry aka Elizabeth Figueroa Says...

    On November 3, 2010 at 2:06 am

    Wow that was an intense article, It is surprise to find that catepillars could be such a creature.


  30. Catherine South Says...

    On November 3, 2010 at 3:12 am

    I get the heebie jeebies when I see one of the fuzzy ones in my garden.


  31. Cynthia Bartlett Says...

    On November 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Interesting article. Though the location of these larvae is not given. Is this referring to ALL butterflies and moths or is it generalization?
    There were several examples of larvae but to which butterfly or moth do they belong?


  32. A Jom Says...

    On November 4, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Interesting article.


  33. TommyP Says...

    On November 4, 2010 at 10:35 am

    ooo… lots of pretty pictures… Are any of the caterpillars shown linked with the description below their pictures? That way I could avoid the dangerous ones! 2nd to last photo is of what is commonly called around my area a “wooly bear” I have picked them up and held them hundreds of times in my life with no reaction, discomfort, rash….etc.


  34. EricPinola Says...

    On November 4, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Great post!

    I once ran across a really nasty looking caterpillar in rock climbing on a big wall in El Potrero Chico Mexico. It was crawling inside of a crack about 1000 feet up a 2000+ foot wall. The red & black spines on its back were about half and inch long. It was about 4 inches long and moved very quickly.

    Needless to say I took a very large fall because I did not want it to touch my hand:)

    cool picture of the route below. (Land of the Free 5.12b IV)

    http://www.mountainproject.com/v/international/north_america/mexico/105914241

    Eric Pinola


  35. wisdom555 Says...

    On November 4, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Imza scared..


  36. Lynda Bailey Says...

    On November 4, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Cool article! I never knew that there are killer caterpillars. I considered myself a student pof nature . I spent my life teaching others about nature. Where are these caterpillars the most active? I will never look at a caterpillar the same again.


  37. Barneslow Says...

    On November 4, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Jesus brilliant article. I heard of a caterpillar that secrets a chemical that turns ants into its slaves. It seemed really cool.


  38. collectorofarticles Says...

    On November 4, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Scary. Scary.


  39. Michal Dorcak Says...

    On November 5, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Nice and scary information.


  40. gaby7 Says...

    On November 5, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Very cool!


  41. SharifaMcFarlane Says...

    On November 5, 2010 at 9:20 am

    That last one looks ready to do damage.


  42. LCM Linda Says...

    On November 11, 2010 at 6:31 am

    I didn’t know that caterpillars are so dangerous. Learn new things. Thanks for sharing.


  43. ur guide Says...

    On December 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    great article.never knew about this.


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