It looks kind of cute, harmless, fuzzy. If you encounter it, you may be tempted to pick it up, maybe even pet it.
Even though it may appear similar to a lucky rabbit’s foot, the puss caterpillar is one of the most poisonous insects in America, and you will instantly regret handling it.
Just ask Bri Oteri of Dade City, Florida. Here’s what she said in her Facebook post about her encounter:
“Saturday I came in contact with the most venomous caterpillar in the US., the puss caterpillar. Who would’ve thought. I was leaning on this wooden fence and immediately felt my wrist burning. I started screaming for my brother to get it off me. He had no clue what was happening.
“It felt like fire ants in that moment. I looked down and saw this fuzzy thing moving across the wood…
“I was watching my son practice and all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to pass out, and then came the pain. In my chest, in my entire right arm, radiating from my wrist all throughout my arm and shoulder.
“I looked at my husband and said we need to go to the ER right now. I was scared. The pain was so excruciating I was hysterically crying in the hospital pleading for the doctors and nurses to help me. Morphine didn’t even touch the pain. I cried and pleaded with God for hours to make it stop. I’ve had 2 c-sections, other surgeries, and nothing came close to the pain. It felt like someone was drilling into my bones.”
The cause of Bri’s agony are sharp spines hidden beneath the innocent-looking fur filled with poison.
So don’t touch them. And beware in the spring and fall when they tend to make their annual visit to Florida.
If you do come into contact with the caterpillar, apply ice packs and cover it with a paste of baking soda and water.
It may not make you feel better, but it will keep you busy until the bone-crunching pain subsides
STRANGE FACT: The most poisonous insect in the world is the sea wasp, found off the coast of Australia, whose venom is so powerful it can kill a human in less than three minutes.