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How to Keep a Caterpillar

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How to Handle Your Caterpillar Safely
Don't handle the caterpillar with your fingers. Instead, use a leaf to gently touch the caterpillar on the rear end. The caterpillar will walk forward, making it easy to coax onto another leaf or your hand.

Don't handle the caterpillar with your fingers. Instead, use a leaf to gently touch the caterpillar on the rear end. The caterpillar will walk forward, making it easy to coax onto another leaf or your hand.

Photo: © Debbie Hadley, WILD Jersey

Caterpillars can cling to a surface with remarkable strength when you're trying to pick one up. You don't want to hurt it, so you should know a few things about how to handle your caterpillar properly.

Rather than try to pick the caterpillar up, place a leaf in front of it and give it a gentle nudge on the rear end. Usually, when a caterpillar is touched from behind, it will walk forward to avoid the touch. The caterpillar should walk right onto the leaf. Carry the caterpillar to a container on the leaf.

Quite a few caterpillars have spines or hairs that appear soft and fuzzy, but can actually produce a nasty little prickle and irritate the skin. Tussock moth caterpillars, for example, may cause a painful rash. Some caterpillars can sting – don't ever handle one with bare hands!

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