Nature is highly unpredictable. One minute you’re enjoying the cool breeze of the ocean lathering your face, while the next minute you’re faced with a torrential downpour and destructive winds.
We hang in the balance of a tightrope that wobbles like a pendulum between order and chaos. Curveballs can be thrown at times and that’s when things start getting interesting.
A fuzzy-looking caterpillar has emerged in the United States and experts are taking a closer look.
This toupe-like insect has been found to be one of the most poisonous caterpillars in the nation.
The organism feigns the appearance of a wig that moves sluggishly around tree bark and arouses your curiosity with its furry exterior-hence the name furry puss caterpillar.
The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) reports that there have been multiple sightings of the puss caterpillars in some eastern Virginia counties.
These insects represent the larva stage of the southern flannel moth called Megalopyge opercularis.
They mainly reside in trees where they fall and cling onto bark, plants, and even clothing.
Anatomical features, such as their fuzzy veneer, acts as a way to hide their venomous spines from potential threats. The strength of their venom is directly proportional to their size, meaning that as they grow, their venom becomes more lethal.
The caterpillars have been known to feed on oak and elm leaves and can even be found in man-made structures such as buildings, parks, and parking lots.
According to a 2005 paper published by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, reactions of a sting involve the typical swelling and redness, however, there are other symptoms to consider depending on the individual including fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, seizure, and in some cases, abdominal pain.
Cases of these insects have occurred in different states such as Florida and Texas.
The Florida Poison Information Center (FPIC) has issued tips and recommendations to help treat the stings from these dastardly foes. One of the remedies is to use scotch tape over the sting and then peeling it off in order to extract the spines.
Don’t let their fuzzy appearances fool you. These insects can cause a heap of damage if you’re not careful.
An instance of contact occurred in 2018, where a caterpillar dropped from a tree onto 5-year-old Adrie Chambers who was casually playing in the yard of her Texas Daycare. Suddenly, her arm went cold and she started to experience severe numbness.
That was the call to take immediate action and so she was admitted directly to the Emergency Room in the nearest hospital. Luckily, she was given proper treatment with steroids and made a full recovery.
A Florida teenager was also stung the same year and also received urgent care. The hospitalization occurred shortly after the teen was stung and soon later the story was published on social media by his mother where it was shared profusely.
In addition, another case in May of 2017 involved a 5-year-old male where he accidentally stepped on one of the caterpillars where it was reported his mother heard a “blood-curdling scream”.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t a modern phenomenon where it just occurred recently.
In 1923 and 1951, school closures were prompted as a direct result of a puss caterpillar outbreak.
According to information published by the University of Florida’s Entomology Department, these critters are known to inhabit mainly the East Coast of the United States anywhere between Florida and New Jersey, and also some of the western areas of the country including as far west as Texas and Arkansas.
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2020 has been a crazy year for health security reasons, and this is clearly no exception.
It’s important to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings in case temptation tries to takeover. Make sure to spread the word about these fuzzy foes to your loved ones.
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