Poison from caterpillar spines hurts worse than jellyfish sting

- There’s a tiny caterpillar that packs a painful punch hiding on trees and shrubs right in your back yard.

The puss caterpillar is one of four stinging caterpillars found in Florida and experts say it can cause pain greater than the sting of a bee or a jellyfish.

If you come in contact with a puss caterpillar, its spines – which look like hairs – will break off in your skin. Those spines connect to glands that release a nasty poison.

Some people unlucky enough to be stuck by the puss caterpillar’s spines feel a fire-like itching and burning. Those even less lucky – who already suffer from hay fever, asthma or other allergies - may need medical treatment for their reaction to the poison.

To remove the spines from your skin, experts at the University of Florida say you can use a piece of clear tape to pull them out. A paste of baking soda and water can help relieve pain, as well as an ice pack.

The puss caterpillar likes to hang out where there are lots of trees and bushes. If you’re doing work outdoors, be sure to check the undersides of leaves and around the plant for signs of this stinging bug.

For more information about the puss caterpillar, visit the University of Florida’s IFAS Extension website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in014

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