While her other two kids played at the park in Gwinnett County, Georgia, Leslie and her infant daughter had a seat. Then they both noticed an utterly bizarre-looking caterpillar, large and kind of furry. Fortunately, Leslie decided it was best not to touch it and made sure her little one didn’t, either. Instead, she broke out her phone and shot a video of it so she could look it up when they got home. Well played: this was a puss caterpillar, a fuzzy little monster than can put you in a world of hurt.
The puss caterpillar gets its name from its vaguely cat-like “fur.” There are other nicknames, too: woolly slug, possum bug, asp caterpillar, and tree asp. These caterpillars are fairly common throughout the South, although often unseen because they normally spend their time up in trees, away from people. We can be glad they stay away from us because underneath that “fur,” there are tiny spines ready to deliver a nasty dose of venom to anyone that would dare to touch one of these caterpillars.
Although not especially dangerous, it is extremely painful, said variously to be like a wasp or jellyfish sting, blunt force trauma, or even a broken bone. There can be localized swelling or hives while pain can radiate further from the stung location. In some cases, it can be accompanied by nausea, sweating, chest pain, or a general sense of being unwell.
The moral of the story is to be careful about touching any creature out in the wild unless you know it’s safe to do so. It’s especially important that parents make this clear to their children. Kids are curious and a puss caterpillar is exactly the sort of thing that looks “cute” (or at least interesting) and might appear harmless but has a hidden ability to deliver a very unpleasant surprise.
Don’t miss the video that’s posted below. Had you even heard of these bizarre caterpillars? Let us know in the comments at Facebook and be sure to like and share.