Poisonous Puss Caterpillars Reemerge in Florida as Experts Warn Against Excruciating Sting
Trust us: you do not want to come in contact with one of these guys.
They might look cute and fuzzy, but don’t let their innocuous appearance fool you. The puss caterpillar is one of the "most venomous caterpillars in the U.S.," and it’s making its seasonal return to at least one unlucky coastal state.
Fox News reports that the larvae of the Southern flannel moth, also commonly known as “asps,” have been spotted in Florida, and experts are urging residents to stay far away from the furry white insects which like to hang out on oak and citrus trees.
Their fluffy “fur” actually hides small, sharp, spines that stick in your skin. Getting stung by one is more painful than you can imagine.
“A puss caterpillar sting feels like a bee sting, only worse. The pain immediately and rapidly gets worse after being stung, and can even make your bones hurt,” University of Florida entomologist Don Hall told National Geographic.
Lyle Buss, senior biological scientist at the University of Florida, explained to Tampa Bay Times that most stings are harmless, only producing a rash. "If you do see one, leaving them alone is the best thing to do," he added.
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If you’re unfortunate enough to have a run in with a puss caterpillar, Florida Poison Information Center recommends putting Scotch tape over the affected area and “striping it off repeatedly to remove spines.” Next apply ice packs to reduce the stinging sensation and slather on a paste of baking soda and water.
These insidious creatures spend the winter in cocoons and emerge twice a year—in the spring and fall.