8 Ways to get rid of itchy caterpillars

Caterpillars are fascinating creatures known for their fuzzy appearance and voracious appetite for plants. They can be a real nuisance when it comes to gardening and outdoor activities.

They not only munch on your precious plants but also have an itchy quality that can cause discomfort and irritation, making them unwanted visitors to your garden or home.

If you’ve ever encountered an itchy caterpillar, you know how frustrating and uncomfortable the experience can be.

Below we’ll explore some simple and effective methods for getting rid of itchy caterpillars and avoiding future outbreaks. Whether you’re dealing with a caterpillar invasion in your backyard or struggling with an itchy skin reaction, We’ve got you covered.

Identify the caterpillar: What are they

Itchy caterpillars are a group of caterpillar species known to cause itching and rashes when they come into contact with human skin. They are often found in gardens, trees, and the wild.

Some of the most common itchy caterpillar species include the puss caterpillar, the hickory tussock moth caterpillar, the oak processionary caterpillar, and the io moth caterpillar.

These caterpillars have tiny hairs or spines that contain venom or irritants, which can cause itching, rashes, and even blisters when they come into contact with human skin.

If you have encountered an itchy caterpillar, it is important to take precautions and seek medical attention.

At night, they come out to feed on their host plants, often damaging or killing them if the plant is not well-suited for their needs.

They eat leaves and stems from their host plant; they may also eat fruits or flowers if they find them. The most commonly seen itchy caterpillar in nature is the fungus moth, which feeds on woody plants such as trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers.

The adult moth lays eggs on host plants, where they hatch into larvae that feed on the leaves until they reach maturity. At this point, they molt into pupae before emerging as adult moths again.

Are all itchy caterpillars hairy?

Some species have long, fine hairs or spikes that can cause skin irritation and itching when they come into contact with the skin. However, not all caterpillars are itchy or hairy, and some have smooth, hairless bodies.

The sensation of itchiness can be caused by various factors, such as the caterpillar’s body shape, spikes, or poison hairs or spines. The type of hair a caterpillar has depends on the species and the purpose it serves.

How to get rid of itchy caterpillars

Some hairs help with camouflage, while others protect the caterpillar from predators. Suppose a caterpillar’s hair is causing itching. In that case, it’s best to avoid touching it, as some species produce toxins that can cause skin irritation.

For example, the caterpillar of the Gypsy Moth has hair that is toxic to predators and humans and causes a burning sensation and itching when touched.

Are itchy caterpillars dangerous?

Well, it depends on the type of caterpillar. Some species of caterpillars have hairs or spines that can cause itching or rashes if they come into contact with human skin. However, this reaction is usually not dangerous and can be treated with over-the-counter remedies.

They are obviously dangerous to plants and will damage them if they are not controlled.  Some of these hairy caterpillars can cause itching, skin irritation, and allergic reactions in some people when they come in contact with these caterpillars.

Also, Some caterpillars produce a poisonous secretion from glands near the head, which is released through tiny holes in their body when threatened or disturbed by predators like birds or ants; this secretion can cause severe irritation to humans who come into contact with it through bites or scratches from the irritant hairs on their bodies.

Caterpillar rash can last up to 2 weeks, but it generally goes away in 3-7 days. Suppose you come into contact with a caterpillar and have an adverse reaction. In that case, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. To avoid having any issues, it’s a good idea to avoid touching or handling caterpillars, especially if you’re not sure what species they are.

Ways to get rid of itchy caterpillars

Caterpillar rash home remedy

Caterpillar rash can be an incredibly frustrating condition, especially if it’s not treated properly. Here are some home remedies that work well.

  • Apply aloe vera gel to the affected area. This will help soothe the irritation and reduce swelling, which causes itching and rashes.
  • Mix one teaspoon of olive oil with one teaspoon of aloe vera gel and apply over the affected area daily for two days until you see improvement in your symptoms.
  • Apply a warm compress like a wet tea towel or washcloth to the affected area for 15 minutes every two hours or as often as needed until the rash disappears.
  • Mix one tablespoon of coconut oil with one tablespoon of baking soda and apply on the affected area daily. Leave it on overnight before washing it off with lukewarm water the next day.
  • Apply calendula cream to the affected area twice daily for three days, then once daily for seven days after that (or however long it takes for your skin to get back to normal).
  • Boil some water and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix it well, take a cotton ball, and dip it in this solution. Now, apply this solution to the affected area daily.
  • Mix one tablespoon of honey in two cups of water and apply this solution on top of your skin twice daily for two days—then continue applying this mixture at least twice daily until you see improvement.

Ways to get rid of itchy caterpillars

Getting rid of itchy caterpillars can be a challenge, especially if they have infested your plants or trees. Caterpillars can cause a lot of damage to vegetation and also produce irritant hairs that can cause skin irritation and itching when they come into contact with human skin.

There are various natural ways to eliminate caterpillars from your garden. However, below are the numerous effective ways to get rid of caterpillars from your garden

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) insecticide:

Bt is a naturally occurring bacteria harmful to caterpillars but safe for humans, pets, and beneficial insects. The bacterium attacks the caterpillar’s digestive system and causes it to stop eating, leading to death.

To use Bt insecticide, you’ll want to follow the instructions on the product label carefully. Typically, you’ll need to dilute the product in water and spray it directly on the plants or foliage on which the caterpillars are feeding. You may need to reapply the insecticide after a few days or when you notice new caterpillar activity.

It’s important to note that Bt insecticide only works on the caterpillar stage of the insect’s life cycle. If you have eggs or adult moths, you’ll need another solution or approach to get rid of them.

Physical Removal:

Physical removal is one of the most effective ways to get rid of them. It’s an easy and straightforward solution that doesn’t involve using any harsh chemicals or insecticides. Here are some tips on how to physically remove itchy caterpillars from your garden or outdoor space:

  • Use gloves: Itchy caterpillars can cause skin irritation and rashes, so it’s essential to wear gloves to protect your hands.
  • Handpick the caterpillars: Simply pick the caterpillars off the plants and bushes and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. This will kill them instantly.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner: If you have a lot of caterpillars, you can use a vacuum cleaner to suck them up. This is a quick and efficient way to remove large numbers of caterpillars at once.
  • Use a sticky trap: Place a sticky trap near the infested plants. The caterpillars will stick to the trap as they crawl over it, effectively removing them from your garden.
  • Prune-affected plants: Prune the affected plants to remove the caterpillars and their eggs. Dispose of the pruned parts in a sealed bag to prevent the caterpillars from escaping.

By using these physical removal techniques, you can get rid of itchy caterpillars and keep your garden healthy and pest-free.


There are several options for getting rid of these pesky critters. One effective way to get rid of caterpillars is by using pesticides specifically designed for caterpillars.

Some popular pesticides that work well against caterpillars include Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), Horticultural oil, Spinosad, and Neem oil. These pesticides are safe to use around humans and pets and are easily available at local garden centers or online.

To use the pesticides, follow the instructions on the label and apply the product directly to the affected area. Be sure to protect yourself by wearing gloves and a mask to avoid skin or respiratory irritation.

Using pesticides can be a quick and effective solution. Just make sure to follow the instructions and take the necessary safety precautions.

Natural repellents:

Did you know that you can use natural repellents to get rid of them? One way to eliminate them is by mixing vinegar, water, and dish soap. Simply mix equal parts of vinegar, water, and a drop of dish soap in a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the affected plants.

This will deter the caterpillars from eating the plants, and they’ll move on to find another meal. This is a safe and effective way to eliminate itchy caterpillars without harming the environment or your plants.

Companion planting:

Companion planting is a method of growing different plants to benefit each other. Some plants produce chemicals that deter pests, like caterpillars, and planting them near your crops can help keep the creepy crawlies away.

For example, planting marigolds next to your tomatoes will keep caterpillars away, as they don’t like the smell of marigolds. Similarly, planting basil next to your tomatoes will also help keep caterpillars at bay, as basil has a strong scent that caterpillars don’t like.

Here is a list of plants that are great for companion planting to get rid of itchy caterpillars: Garlic, Chives, Thyme, Marigold, Nasturtium, Mint, Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Dill

Planting these companion plants around the perimeter of your garden can create a natural barrier against caterpillars and other pests. And the bonus is many of these plants also have culinary or medicinal uses!

So next time you’re struggling with itchy caterpillars, give companion planting a try. Not only will it help keep your plants healthy, but it’s also an eco-friendly solution that can benefit your garden in many ways.

Attract predators:

This method is an eco-friendly way to control their population and prevent further infestations.

Birds, bats, and other insects, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and wasps, feed on caterpillars and can effectively control their numbers. You can attract these predators to your garden by planting flowers and shrubs that provide food and shelter for them.

Some of the best plants to attract predators include marigolds, zinnias, asters, goldenrod, and daisies. Make sure to keep the area pesticide-free, as it can harm the predators and make it difficult for them to control the caterpillars.

Another way to attract predators is to install birdhouses and bat boxes in your garden. This will give them a place to live and increase their presence in the area, helping to keep the caterpillar population under control.

Neem oil:

This natural oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree. It has many benefits, including being an effective insecticide for other pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and many more. Simply mix a few drops of pure neem oil with water and spray it directly on the caterpillars and their nests, or get a ready-to-use available on various online stores such as amazon.

You can also add a little dish soap to the mix to help it stick to the leaves and caterpillars better. Just be sure to avoid spraying it on beneficial insects like bees or ladybugs.

And if you have pets, keep them away from the treated areas until the oil has dried completely. With a little patience and persistence, you should be able to get rid of those itchy caterpillars for good!

Diatomaceous earth:

Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from tiny fossilized algae. It’s completely safe for you and your plants but not so much for insects like caterpillars. When they come in contact with diatomaceous earth, the sharp edges of the powder cut into their bodies, causing them to dehydrate and eventually die.

To use diatomaceous earth, simply sprinkle it around the affected area. Make sure to cover the leaves’ top and bottom, stem, and surrounding soil. Reapply every couple of days until the caterpillars are gone.

One thing to remember is that diatomaceous earth can also kill beneficial insects, so be careful not to apply too much and only use it when necessary. And if you have pets, make sure to keep them away from the treated area.

Leave a Comment