You and your kiddos may find the American Dagger Moth Caterpillar cute, but this is one of those cases where you can look but don't touch.

American Dagger Moth caterpillar crawling up a wall.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

These things are pretty toxic and seem to be out around Indiana in the early Autumn months. I saw one in my back yard the other day.

According to, these caterpillars feed on many trees that are found in our neighborhoods such as, oak, ash, elm, alder, willow, and maple trees.

So what makes these things toxic? Well, the American Dagger Moth is covered in yellow/green bristles with four longer black bristles on the end of the caterpillar. These bristles can break off and embed themeselves into the skin of the unlucky person who touched it.

While it's far from a life-threatening toxin that these bristles release, you're going to have a burning, itching sensation, and a pretty gnarly rash that will last for a few days.

So it's best to not try to touch or pick up these little guys. Think of it like yellow snow. You don't want to touch it...or eat it!

Consider this as a warning, and be sure to tell your kids too (they tend to be the caterpillar's most common victims).

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