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Acharia stimulea (Saddleback Caterpillar Moth)

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Limacodidae
Genus: Acharia

Acharia stimulea (formerly Sibine stimulea) belongs to the moth family Limacodidae, commonly known as the Slug Caterpillars (1). Acharia stimulea caterpillars are brown with a vivid green saddle and are covered with hairs which deliver a potent sting when touched (2). Their striking coloration is likely a warning to predators to “back off!”  The adult moth is a dark chocolate brown with black shading and a few white dots and range from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Missouri and Texas. Adults generally fly in July and August, except in the extreme South, where they fly year-round.  The caterpillars are found on a variety of trees, shrubs and garden plants. The specimen pictured here was found on a hickory near the intersection of Circuit & LaSalle on the Duke University campus.

Acharia stimulea

Acharia stimulea – Saddleback Caterpillar

Acharia stimulea - Dorsal view

Acharia stimulea – dorsal view

Acharia stimulea - close up of anterior end

Acharia stimulea – Close up of anterior end

Acharia stimulea - close up of posterior end

Acharia stimulea – Close up of posterior end


Acharia stimulea on
Acharia stimulea on Wikipedia
Startle display and images of adult moth Acharia stimulea on



(1) Arnett, R.H., Jr., American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico, (2000), CRC Press.
(2) Covell, C.V., Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths., 2nd ed., (2005), Virginia Museum of Natural History.
(3) Triplehorn, C.A. and N.F. Johnson, Borror and Delong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects, 7th ed., (2005), Thomson Brooks/Cole.