Venomous puss caterpillars in Florida: What to do if you get stung

The venomous puss caterpillars are popping up around Central Florida – and you'll want to keep your distance!

They're normally about an inch long and are often found near oak and citrus trees. The critters are mostly active in the spring and fall. 

Under its innocent looking hairs are stiff spines attached to poison glands. When touched, these spines break off into the skin and cause severe pain.

"I just saw one red welt and then it just started transferring down my arm towards my watch, towards my elbow, both ways. And the pain was getting worse and worse," one woman said. "It was like someone was stabbing me."


"People have shown up in the emergency department because it was so painful they couldn’t stand it," the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa said.

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There are a few things you can do if you get stung.

  • Place clear tape over the affected area
  • Strip off repeatedly to remove spines
  • Make sure not to use the same piece of tape twice
  • Apply ice packs to reduce the stinging sensation
  • Follow with a paste of baking soda and water

According to, Florida's puss caterpillar is one of the most venomous in the country.