October 5, 2014

The Poisonous "Furry Puss Caterpillar" Showing Up in Carolina & Kure Beach, NC

Furry puss caterpillar found in Carolina Beach, NC
Have you heard of the furry puss caterpillar which is considered to be the most venomous caterpillar in the U.S?

They are on the rise in our area and I just found this one in my mulch bed here in Carolina Beach. Keep an eye out for these cute little 'toxic' furry devils.

According to Nat GeoYoung children from Florida to North Carolina are reporting excruciating pain after coming into contact with the most venomous caterpillar in the U.S., the furry puss caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis), according to news reports. Some have petted the insect; others have been injured when the caterpillars fell onto them from trees.

The puss caterpillar got its name because it resembles a cuddly house cat, said University of Florida entomologist Don Hall. While these insects may look soft, their outer comb-over hides small, extremely toxic spines that stick in your skin.

“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,” Hall said.
Kristie Fessler shared this photo of a  furry puss caterpillar
on her home in Carolina Beach, NC

“How bad the sting hurts depends on where you get stung and how many spines are embedded in your skin. People who have been stung on the hand say the pain can radiate up to their shoulder and last for up to 12 hours,” Hall said.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, the director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Miami told the Sun Sentinel  back in 2012 that he has even seen patients pass out from the pain.

"We don't see any deaths from it, but it is very painful, judging by the number of people that just are out-of-control hysterical when they call," he said.

According to Nature Wold News, they described the sting on a finger to feel similar to that of someone driving a nail through it.

Closer to home, we are hearing from some people who have had contact with the little buggers. Kristie Fessler shared a photo with us (right) of one of the caterpillars on her home in Carolina Beach.

In another account from Karen Campbell, she tells us that a friend of hers, who lives on the on the Intracoastal Waterway north of Figure Eight Island, was stung on the arm yesterday and ended up in urgent care due to spasms in her arm.  The caterpillar was hidden in the cushion of an outdoor chair. Karen notes that her friend is better today but that her arm is very stiff and sore. 
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