Wednesday, October 03, 2012


The caterpillar in this photo is just one of several who have been hanging around on my passion flower vine the last several days. They look rather menacing, with their rows of double spikes, and I thought maybe this was the type of critter that had caused the rash on my arm a few weeks ago ( So I lightly pressed my forearm against him.

Sure enough, he's the culprit!

I've looked on the Internet to try to identify this caterpillar, but have not been successful. Maybe one of our readers can help me out. You can click on the photo to view a larger image.

My advice: if you encounter one of these, let it be!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:


  1. Julie S7:54 AM

    That will be a Gulf Fritillary butterfly! The larva feeds on Passionflower plants.

  2. Anonymous8:26 AM


  3. Toni Walls8:39 AM

    I love your "scientific" approach to discovering the source of your rash.

  4. Julie S -- are correct. That is the caterpillar I see on my passion vine. Every web site I looked at says that these caterpillars do not sting, but I definitely developed a rash after pressing my forearm against this critter. Is there any explanation for this?

  5. Julie S.9:27 AM

    I just returned from visiting my Passionflower and bravely picked up one of those wicked looking critters - no stinging, no rash. My guess is that you have a particular aversion to the little guys. Anyone can be "allergic" to anything. You might try some Benadryl cream. Just remember how pretty that little terror will be soon!

  6. Anonymous11:16 AM

    This is fantastic -- such a quick response. ----- Now it is my understanding that a caterpillar feeds on a certain plant, thus knowing the plant seeking the caterpillar that uses that plant as a food source can link and identify the critter. however, dedicating you body to science -- mind blowing.

  7. Well, I did it again -- pressed my arm lightly against the little critter. Almost immediately my arm was itching...then little red bumps appeared. I guess you might refer to this as replicating a scientific experiment. Or just plain stupidity!

  8. Anonymous4:55 PM

    I would suggest caution when removing the caterpillars though..they have irritant spines & accumulate cyanogenic glycosides, alkaloids etc which they absorb from the Passiflora leaves. I would wear gloves therefore when removing them. The Gulf ones will only feed on Passiflora-some people grow a sacrificial plant that they put all the caterpillars on.....if you have that kind of fast reaction leave them alone it could get worse.

  9. Debbie Leonard7:27 PM

    I wonder if you would be allergic to the passionflower since you are allergic to the caterpillar that feeds on them.

    And, yes, people can definitely be allergic to anything. I would not only stock the Benadryl cream but the Bendaryl pills too.

  10. Julie S.10:18 AM

    Yes, knowing what the larvae eat can help identify them. For example Monarchs eat milkweed, Whites like mustards and my favorite, the Black Swallowtail devours my parsley every year! Also things like perching with their wings open - Skippers - helps identify them.

  11. Anonymous4:06 PM

    That caterpillar has the right of way. I would leave it alone, too. But, then again, NC Mainlander has just killed two copperheads by her front door in the past two weeks, so why am I afraid of a little caterpillar?

    Just kidding....I don't want to have a close encounter with your "friend"!