Venomous puss caterpillars return to Central Florida

Look but don't touch!

A Central Florida resident is warning others that the venomous puss caterpillars have made their return to the area. 

Mary Tiffany posted on Orlando's Conway Community page that the hairy critters are out and about.

"One of my family members was stung today," she wrote on Tuesday.

Known as one of the most venomous caterpillars in the U.S., a 2014 report by National Geographic stated that this caterpillar’s fluffy-looking "hair" actually hides small, sharp spines that "stick in your skin." 

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Experts say the sting of a puss caterpillar feels like a bee sting -- only worse.

FOX 35 News spoke with a Winter Park woman back in 2019 who said getting stung by one of these caterpillars is the worst pain ‘next to childbirth.’ 

"It felt like the pain was jumping from one area… I just don’t wish it on nobody. It was the worst," she said.

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"It's not an instantaneous shock of a hornet or wasp, but it builds for a long time in a frightening way," David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut, told USA TODAY. "No one expects stings to gain in impact or discomfort, and these will, even up to an hour later. It packs quite a wallop."

If you get stung, the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida recommends to get the spines out of your skin as soon as possible with the aid of cellophane tape. Ice packs, oral antihistamine, and hydrocortisone cream are some of the methods that can be used to help with the pain.

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