The furry puss caterpillar looks like a little critter you'd want to pick up and stroke. But don't, unless you want to be in excruciating pain for 12 hours.
There's a harmless, even cuddly-looking little caterpillar that inhabits the southeastern United States and on into Central America. But the furry puss caterpillar is anything but harmless.
This fuzzy little bugger has quite a sting, one so potent that victims of it describe it as similar to what a broken bone or multiple hornet stings might feel like. And the pain of contact with the puss caterpillar can last for twelve or more hours.
The dangerous leaf eater is the larvae of the Flannel Moth. The top half of the caterpillar is presumably what gave it its nickname, as its luxurious furry appearance is reminiscent of a Persian cat.
But underneath it's an ugly little creepy crawly, with suction cup-like feet and a leaf chewing head on a swivel. The "fur" hides venomous spines, which if contacted can result in an intense reaction that includes burning, blisters, swelling, nausea, headache, chest pain and difficulty breathing.
There is no known cure for the distress caused by the sting of the furry puss, although some treatments do apparently offer some degree of relief.
Direct application of ice, hydrocortisone cream, comfrey plant juice and baking soda are all home remedies that may slightly stem the pain. You may also apply oral antihistamines to help with respiratory problems and allergic reactions.
But time is really the only cure, and one must suffer through the distress until it alleviates.
So don't go petting that furry caterpillar you come across. You'll regret it.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.