Why Should I Avoid Picking Up Caterpillars?

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You may not know it, but you share your outdoor landscape with many different species of insects. From the bees that buzz around your garden and pollinate the plants to the spiders building webs in the eaves of your storage sheds, these tiny creatures are everywhere.

For the most part, area residents share their yards and landscapes without much conflict. They live their lives, and the unseen creatures that populate the forests and grasslands live theirs. Sometimes, however, contact between these multiplexed insects and their two and four-legged counterparts proves problematic. If, for instance, you encounter a caterpillar on your property, it is best to leave it alone. Here are some reasons why you should not pick up any caterpillars you find around your home.

Some Caterpillar Species are Poisonous

Insects employ a number of strategies to protect themselves from predators. Some insects use camouflage to blend into the environment, matching their coloration to the surrounding landscape to avoid detection. Others emit loud sounds to frighten predators away, and still others emit a powerful poison when handled or ingested.

While the number of poisonous caterpillars is relatively small, an encounter with one of those poison producing species could leave you with a painful reminder of the experience. Unless you are an expert in insects, it can be difficult to tell a poisonous species from a harmless one, so it is best to play it safe and avoid contact altogether.

You Could Inadvertently Spread Pests to Your Garden

Caterpillars love to eat plants, and that includes the ones in your gardens. Many species of caterpillars are considered garden pests, and picking one up could inadvertently introduce it to the plants you have so carefully nurtured.

Picking up a caterpillar could move it closer to your garden, and once established, that lone caterpillar may invite its family members as well. If you want to avoid this type of damage, just leave that single caterpillar where it is.

Moving a Caterpillar Could Harm It

Even if the caterpillar in question is non-poisonous and safe for your garden, it is best to leave it where you find it. Moving a caterpillar could harm or even kill it, and you do not want to be responsible for that destruction.

The environment is a delicate and well-balanced place, and that includes the landscape surrounding your home. Even if you do not know it, you share your backyard with dozens of different species, including many butterflies, moths and caterpillars. The next time you see one of these creatures, feel free to admire its beauty – but resist the urge to touch it.


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