This Hairy Looking Fluff-Ball Is Surprisingly Dangerous

Apr 10, 2016

It looks something like a toupee that blew off on a windy day, but the caterpillar stage of Megalopyge opercularis is a very real insect. Commonly known as the puss caterpillar, due to its resemblance to a fluffy house cat, these little creatures are anything but friendly.

The reason why it’s so important to know about them is because they look quite cute and it’s quite amusing to watch them wriggle their way up a tree or across the top of a fence. This attraction can pose a hazard to curious children, because those fluffy-looking hairs are actually spikes, loaded with venom.

Reactions to the venom typically aren’t fatal, but can be quite severe. They cover anything from a localized, itching, burning rash at the site of the stings, to a full-body mess of burning, tingling, chest pains, blisters, headache, nausea, and more! The best thing you can do if you see one is to avoid it and warn others who may be nearby. If you or someone with you has come into contact, the first thing you should do is try to find some cellophane tape, which can be used to remove the venomous barbs. Then, take an antihistamine and seek medical attention right away.

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