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Beware of venomous puss caterpillars found in Florida - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Beware of venomous puss caterpillars found in Florida

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Puss caterpillar (Photo: University of Florida) Puss caterpillar (Photo: University of Florida)
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The may look fluffy and cute, but these caterpillars are anything but.

Under all that fur on the puss caterpillar are venomous bristles that break off into the skin when touched by humans and cause serious pain. This caterpillar is the most poisonous in the country, and makes its home in several different kinds of trees found in Florida, such as elm, oak and sycamore.

Doctors describe the pain as "instant, immediate and intense." In addition to a skin reaction, touching the venomous bristles can also cause fever, vomiting, convulsions and a drop in blood pressure. Some people have worse reactions than others, and require medical attention. Others may only have an itching or burning sensation. 

The puss caterpillar is more prevalent certain times of year - and now is one of those times. Reports of people getting stung are on the rise. Doctors say its important to watch out for these caterpillars near trees, and talk to children, who may be more tempted to touch one. At its largest, the puss caterpillar grows one-inch long.

The Poison Center in Tampa says if you do get stung, place Scotch tape over the affected area and strip off repeatedly to remove spines. Apply ice packs to reduce the stinging sensation, and follow with a paste of baking soda and water.

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