This Cute and Fuzzy Caterpillar Found in Indiana Has a Brutal Sting
Despite its funny name and its cute look, you don't want to touch this fuzzy caterpillar.
You might think that caterpillars can be harmful, especially if they look cute, but one of the most poisonous caterpillars in the world can be found in Indiana. The puss caterpillar can be found feasting on fall foliage in the state, so now is a good time to learn about it. While its name doesn't sound too intimidating, the sting from the puss caterpillar can be pretty bad.
The puss caterpillar kind of looks like Cousin It from The Addams Family. Its cute and fuzzy look might lead to kids wanting to pick it up and show it off, however, if you or your child get stung by one, the pain you feel is far from cute. The caterpillar can grow to a little over 1 inch long and is covered in gray and orange hairs. According to Caterpillar Identification, the puss caterpillar can be found in our regions of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.
You can get a good look at a puss caterpillar in the video below.
How Bad is a Puss Caterpillar Sting?
Underneath the hairy surface of the puss caterpillar is poisonous barbs that pack a powerful sting, which can result in days and even weeks of pain, according to NPR. The University of Michigan Medicine describes the sting of a puss caterpillar:
Symptoms of a puss caterpillar sting include intense pain, swelling, a red, itchy rash, restlessness and anxiety, vomiting, fever, muscle cramps, swollen glands, and even signs of shock.
NPR goes on to say that the level of pain from the puss caterpillar's sting can vary from person to person, but its venom can be dangerous to people who suffer from extreme reactions to insect bites. The sting has been known to cause anaphylaxis in rare cases, which can be life-threatening.
What to do if You are Stung by a Puss Caterpillar
NPR gives great advice in their article on what to do in the event that you get stung by one of these caterpillars.
If you happen to get stung by the caterpillar, the National Capital Poison Center recommends using tape to remove the hairs and then gently washing the area with soap and water. If the sting site begins to itch, use hydrocortisone cream or a baking soda and water paste for relief.
Of course, if you have any severe symptoms or feel like you’re having an allergic reaction, you should go to the emergency room ASAP.
If you do stumble across a puss caterpillar, the best bet is for you to leave it be and avoid touching it at all costs...no matter how cute it may be.