This hairy caterpillar was spotted by a hiking trail in Fort Kent on July 23. Credit: Courtesy of Lisa Burress

Kids have a tendency to spot small things in nature that others overlook. Such was the case on July 23, when 10-year-old Ariana Jenkins of Limestone spied an odd-looking caterpillar during a family hiking trip in Fort Kent.

Covered with long, wiry yellow hair and black spikes, the caterpillar was crawling near the trail to Fish River Falls. A lover of insects and spiders, Ariana immediately shared her discovery with her family.

“Wow, this is really cool,” Ariana said, according to her mother, Lisa Burress.

She pointed out the caterpillar to her 8-year-old brother, Dominic Jenkins, and before long, she had also roped in her mother and grandmother. Together they observed the eccentric looking creature and took a few photos with a phone.

“My son asked if it was dangerous to touch,” Lisa Burress said. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure, so we didn’t touch it.”

They later searched caterpillar images online to discover that it was likely an American dagger moth caterpillar. It has been reported that toxins found in the caterpillar’s hair can cause a stinging sensation and rash, so Burress is glad that they adopted a hands-off approach to inspecting it.

That afternoon, Burress posted a photo she took of the caterpillar on the popular Facebook group MAINE Wildlife and a few members agreed with the identification. They also left some amusing comments.

“Looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book,” one commenter wrote. Others likened it to Star Trek aliens called Tribbles.

“It’s a really friendly group,” Burress said. “I like seeing the wildlife [that people post on the group] from all over Maine, and my kids like looking at the pictures, too.”

Now her children can say that they contributed to the online conversation. Their hairy caterpillar has delighted dozens of Maine wildlife enthusiasts. Sometimes the small things can be the most extraordinary.


Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...