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My first Saddleback Caterpillar ever! Note that its front, rear, and center spot should be a dark brown; this specimen seems a little unusual. The spines all over its body are capable of a very nasty sting, causing pain, itching, and even nausea. If you find one, DO NOT handle with your bare hands! Also be aware that the spines can fall off in an enclosure and still cause stings even after separation from the body.
Dogwood tree, garden landscaping, rural deciduous area, Clermont County
I was thrilled to find this guy while pruning the dogwood tree in our landscaping. As it was my first saddleback find, I decided to bring it inside and keep it in a terrarium to observe. After about a week, I noticed that it had stopped eating and was still pale and lethargic, and the next day, I found out why: it had been parasitized by a wasp! White wasp cocoons protruded from all over its body, and the poor thing was essentially dead. Disappointing for my first saddleback, but also biologically fascinating.