The Basics:

  • Does it sting? Yes – the venomous spines can give you a sting like a bee

  • What does it eat? Many plants, from roses to willows

  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No

  • Is it rare? Generally scarce, but can be common at times

  • What does it turn into? A gorgeous moth with huge false eye-spots on the hind wings

  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, but handle with care

Io Moth

These caterpillars are protected by venomous spines, and can deliver a sting comparable to a honey bee (although most stings are more like a stinging nettle – you’ll feel it, but you’ll be okay!). They eat various trees and plants including hackberry, mesquite, currant, blackberry, pear, maple, alder, poplar, willow, and wisteria. The Io caterpillar grows up to be a very beautiful moth, with huge eyespot markings on the hind wings that it flashes to scare away birds and other predators. If you find one of these caterpillars, consider yourself lucky, but don't pick it up with bare hands!

Automeris io, female

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