Poisonous Caterpillar Crawling to New York?
The "puss caterpillar" has extremely venomous spines.
If the name alone doesn't scare you enough, the hairs on the outside of this type of caterpillar should.
According to WFXR TV, the puss caterpillar has been seen in some areas of Virginia recently, and that has caused the Virginia Department of Forestry to put out a warning to people to beware.
Yes most caterpillars look fluffy and harmless but this one is far from harmless. The Department of Forestry has said that "hairs" that cover this specific caterpillar if touched by humans can and will cause a painful reaction to anyone.
According to the University of Florida, the puss caterpillars hair at a certain stage does develop a venom gland at its base of the spines and is considered the most venomous caterpillars in the United States.
The puss caterpillars are mostly found in parks and near structures. They normally eat oak and elm leaves, so near oak or elm trees could be a hotspot for them as well.
Officials in Virginia say that if you do find the caterpillar, DON'T TOUCH IT! You should leave it alone and let its natural enemies control their population.
The puss caterpillars natural enemies are....? They are insects that prey on the caterpillars at different stages of their life cycle.
There hasn't been any reports of this type of caterpillar being seen in New York as of now, but with oak trees being the largest group of forest trees in New York State and the caterpillar being found to eat oak leaves, it's probably a good idea to for us to know what they look like.