They may look cute and fuzzy, but you do not want to touch venomous puss caterpillars: These critters have returned to parts of the southeastern U.S., including Florida, and they deliver very painful bites.
Puss caterpillars, which look like little mustaches, have tiny “hairs” that conceal sharp spines, said a report from National Geographic. According to experts, if these venomous spines get in contact with your skin, the pain may feel worse than a bee sting, Fox 35 noted.
People across Florida have been stung by puss caterpillars, including Bri Oteri of Dade City, who recently shared her scary experience on Facebook.
“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,” Oteri wrote in a post. “It felt like fire ants in that moment. I looked down and saw this fuzzy thing moving across the wood.”
Oteri’s encounter with the puss caterpillar was far from over. She said the pain got worse, and eventually, she had to be hospitalized for her bite mark.
“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,” Oteri explained. “I’ve had two c-sections, other surgeries, and nothing came close to the pain. It felt like someone was drilling into my bones.”
First time ever seeing a puss caterpillar! pic.twitter.com/xxW4fcRFF9
— David AttenBruh (@AlHendiify) October 9, 2019
Oteri is recovering from the puss caterpillar incident, however, experts advise to steer clear of these critters in outdoor spaces. And if you do git bit by a puss caterpillar, stay calm and go to your nearest urgent care or emergency room for treatment.
“I’ve been in the business for 30 years, and it will be one of the most miserable days of your life, for sure,” David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut, told USA Today. “But it’s so infrequent as to not be worth worrying about.”
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