Saturday, January 5, 2008

Packsaddle Worm - Updated

I generally troll thru the searches that are bringing people to the Dew, as I want to make sure that I supply the information people are looking for. Now I have no idea why, but each week there is always one or two searches for the Packsaddle Worm. I only have one tiny reference to it in the middle of a story somewhere, so I decided to actually look this word up and see what it was. Apparently it lives in the Appalachians.

Below is a definition of it pulled from "Do you Speak American" - a PBS page I believe.

I hope this helps. All I can say is "a stinging worm - ewww".

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Holder of Southern Skies Design
Picture located at: Forums

packsaddle worm
n Also packsaddle(r) [See quot c1960] esp sAppalachians See Map =saddleback caterpillar.1884 Smith Bill Arp ' s Scrap Book 72 GA, I wonder if Harris ever saw a pack saddle. Well, its as putty as a rainbow, just like most all of the devil ' s contrivances, and when you crowd one of em on a fodderblade you ' d think that forty yaller jackets had stung you all in a bunch. 1925 Dargan Highland Annals 208 cwNC, You said I must git another big mess ' fore the frost struck ' em heavy, an ' that field was plum full o ' pack-saddlers. One stung me ever ' time I laid my hand on a roas ' in ' year. Hit hurts worse ' n a hornet fer a minute, an ' it ' s harder on a body ' s temper than a hornet is. 1953 PADS 19.12 sAppalachians, Pack saddler. . . A beautiful green worm with markings like a saddle on its back. The worm stings. It is found on fodder. c1960 Wilson Coll. csKY, Pack-saddle worm—The larva of an insect often found on corn blades with a very violent sting; the worm itself is quite pretty, actually suggesting the form of an old-fashioned pack-saddle. 1965- 70 DARE (Qu. R21, . . Other kinds of stinging insects) Inf NC35, Packsaddle—fuzzy, looks like woolly worm with horns; NC54, Packsaddle—looks like a saddle and stays on corn; light green; TN22, Packsaddle—lives on corn; (Qu. R27, . . Kinds of caterpillars or similar worms) Infs AL32, KY28, Packsaddle—stinging worm; GA77, Packsaddle—brown, short, has black square on back; KY40, Packsaddle—found on corn blades, has poisonous spines [FW: Inf used in conv]; TN6, Packsaddle—has a stinger; VA2, Packsaddle; VA7, Packsaddle—long, green, with stingers in their backs, corn pests; (Qu. R30) Inf VA3, Packsaddle—wormlike; fuzzy, stings, eats corn [FW: It stings if you brush against its spines when picking corn.] 1982 Slone How We Talked 44 eKY (as of c1950), " Pack saddler " —a worm that was found on the blades of corn. We were always afraid of them when we were pulling the fodder. It stung by projecting spines from its back. It had a ring of these hair-like spines along its back that resembled a saddle.

I received a note from Leslie in North Carolina who shared a Packsaddle encounter with me. I thought I'd pass it along to the readers.

I just read your info regarding the Packsaddle worm and want to let you know that this painful, painful critter is not just in the Appalachian Mountains. I grew up about 30 miles east of Raleigh NC (in the Piedmont but close to the coastal plains). One day, a childhood friend and I were walking through a corn field. As Jeffrey brushed through the stalks, he suddenly exclaimed, "Ow!". As the stalk he had just brushed past swing back and brushed against my leg, I also yelled out because simply put, my leg was on fire!!!! We took a moment to examine the corn stalk and found a green worm with a distinct dark spot in the middle and 2 spiny extensions on each end. It was certainly interesting to look out but we weren't in a forgiving enough frame of mind to think anything but "Gross" and "Scary". We hobbled back to the house and tried unsuccessfully to find this unfriendly fellow in the encyclopedia. We had both grown up with 2 acre "gardens" and had NEVER seen any creature like this before. Since the fire on our legs only seemed to be getting worse, we ended up calling the agriculture extension office to find out what had stung so badly. Of course we were relieved to be told that we weren't in danger of eminent death and after a couple of hours, the stinging did abate. Whew! That has been over 35 years ago and I remember this painful encounter like it was yesterday.