Spiny oak slug

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Euclea delphinii
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Limacodidae
Genus: Euclea
E. delphinii
Binomial name
Euclea delphinii
(Gray, 1832)

The spiny oak slug (Euclea delphinii) is the larval form (caterpillar) of a moth in the family Limacodidae.

Life cycle[edit]

There is one generation a year in the most of the northern parts of its range, with caterpillars seen from late June to October (Wagner 2005). Two generations or more from Missouri south.


Eggs are laid singly or in small clusters on leaves (Wagner 2005).


Euclea delphini Larva

The larva is flattened and ovoid in outline, with spiny tubercules along the back and sides. These are venomous, producing symptoms in humans that vary from mild itching and burning to more serious reactions that require medical attention (Florida Poison Information Center 2015). The sides have craters ringed with black or white along them. In the final instar they usually have two to four sets of black hairs at the tail end, that can fall off, called 'caltrop' spines after the Roman defensive weapons. Colourful, but the colours vary enormously (Wagner 2005). Like all limacodids, the legs are shortened and the prolegs are reduced to suction cups. Maximum length, 20 mm (Wagner 2005).


Pupates in a cup-shaped cocoon with a circular escape hatch.


Euclea delphini Moth

The small (1 cm) moth is 'hairy' and brown, with green patches on the upper wing. The underwing is a paler grey-brown.

Food plants[edit]

Eats a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs, not limited to: apple, ash, basswood, beech, birch, blueberry, cherry, chestnut, hackberry, hickory, maple, oak, poplar, sycamore and willow (Wagner 2005).


  • "Stinging Caterpillars". Florida Poison Information Center – Tampa. 2015. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  • Wagner, DL (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press.

External links[edit]