Officials issue warning after venomous hairy caterpillars spotted in Virginia
It’s a hair-raising situation.
A breed of hairy caterpillars — considered the most poisonous in the US — have recently been spotted in Virginia.
The state Department of Forestry is warning residents to be on the lookout for puss caterpillars, which look soft and furry — but have hidden sharp spines that can stick to human skin.
“The ‘hairs’ of this caterpillar are actually venomous spines that cause a painful reaction if touched,” the agency wrote on Facebook.
The Cousin Itt-like critters’ venomous spines can cause symptoms including intense pain, itchy rashes, nausea and vomiting when touched or brushed up against, according to the University of Michigan.
Last month, a woman in Richmond, Va., went to the emergency room after a run-in with one of the so-called “toxic toupees.”
“It felt exactly like a scorching-hot knife passing through the outside of my calf,” Crystal Spindel Gaston told the Virginia Mercury.
Even after she was treated with antihistamines and over-the-counter pain medication, Gaston said the stung spot “felt like a second- or third-degree burn, and I felt super-achy, like my bones hurt.”
A Florida mother whose son brushed up against one of the fuzzy insects in 2018 said he experienced “the worst pain he had ever felt.”
Measuring less than 2 inches, the creepy crawlies feed on shade trees such as elm, oak and sycamore and are usually found in Southern states, going up north to Maryland and west to Texas.
Their fuzzy appearance has also drawn comparisons to President Trump’s hair over the years.
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