Nettle Caterpillar crawling on a leaf - Keep caterpillars away from your home with Kona Coast Pest Control in Kailua Kona, HI

Nettle Caterpillar

Actual Size: Approximately 1”

Characteristics: Rows of poisonous spines; typically light-colored to gray with a dark stripe that runs down its body; can sometimes appear rust-colored.

Legs: 6 main legs and some have additional prolegs.

Habitat: Nettle caterpillars choose host plants; some of their favorites include palms, various types of tall grasses, irises, and lilies.


  • These caterpillars are the first larval stage of the Asian moth.
  • Will sting humans and stings are extremely painful.
  • Will feed upon and damage crops.
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Nettle Caterpillars in Kailua Kona

Nettle Caterpillars are an invasive species in Hawaii, which means that if you find them on your property they should be eliminated. However, don’t try to eliminate them yourself as they will sting you, and their stings cause a very painful itching and burning sensation. There are no benefits to nettle caterpillars, so it’s important to contact a pest control expert when you see them.

Nettle Caterpillar Habitat

Originally from southeast Asia, nettle caterpillars were first identified on the Big Island in 2001. They’ve also been found on Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, and there’s some disagreement about whether they’ve made it to Maui. They prefer to live near palms, grasses, or flowers like lilies and irises.

Nettle Caterpillar Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Nettle caterpillars are voracious eaters; they will eat leaves from nearby plants, flowers, and grasses, and can consume commercial crops rather quickly too. Aside from the damage they do to native plants, nettle caterpillars also have an exceptionally unpleasant sting. In addition to causing an itching and burning sensation, they can also lead to allergic reactions in some people. Additionally, the rashes can last for weeks before they fully go away. If you spot nettle caterpillars on your property, don’t delay! Call an experienced contact your local exterminators for help.