Furry caterpillars covered in venomous spines is invading Virginia and attacking residents


Virginia officials have warned residents of ‘an outbreak,’ following numerous sightings of the most poisonous caterpillar in the US crawling around the state.

Called a puss caterpillar, the furry creature is covered in venomous spikes that causes intense pain when touched, along with swelling, fever and symptoms of shock.

The hairy creature resides in the southern states and feeds on shade trees such as elm, oak and sycamore, but locals have spotted it roaming around parks and other structures.

Numerous reports of the puss have surfaced in eastern counties of the state, along with injuries that have sent some to the emergency room. 

Officials note that the toxic caterpillar population is kept under control by natural enemies, but chemical insecticides will be deployed if necessary.

Virginia officials have warned residents of ‘an outbreak,’ following numerous sightings of the most poisonous caterpillar in the US crawling around the state. Called a puss caterpillar, the furry creature is covered in venomous spikes that causes intense pain when touched, along with swelling, fever and symptoms of shock

The puss caterpillar is the larva of the small, harmless southern flannel moth, but before it spreads it wings, the creature is deemed a danger to the public.

The insects can grow from 1.2 inches up to 1.4 inches and their bodies are completely hidden under the thick coating of hair – but they peep their head out to feed.

Virginia Department for Forestry has received numerous reports the caterpillar in a few eastern counties in the state, but has not specified exact locations.

Crystal Spindel Gaston, a resident in Richmond, told The Daily Progress, about her encounter with the puss caterpillar.

The insects can grow from 1.2 inches up to 1.4 inches and their bodies are completely hidden under the thick coating of hair – but they peep their head out to feed

The insects can grow from 1.2 inches up to 1.4 inches and their bodies are completely hidden under the thick coating of hair – but they peep their head out to feed

Eric Day, manager of Virginia Tech's Insect Identification Lab, said the puss is not commonly found in the state, as officials only receive about one or two sightings, but 'seems to be an outbreak year'

Eric Day, manager of Virginia Tech’s Insect Identification Lab, said the puss is not commonly found in the state, as officials only receive about one or two sightings, but ‘seems to be an outbreak year’

Gaston was reaching into the back of her car parked outside of her home when she felt an excruciating pain.

‘It felt exactly like a scorching-hot knife passing through the outside of my calf,’ said Gaston, 55, of New Kent County.

‘Before I looked down to see where it came from, I thought 100 percent I was going to see a big piece of metal, super sharp, sticking out from my car.’

She felt ‘white hot pain’ and immediately went to the emergency room – it took her three days to feel normal again.

The puss caterpillar is the larva of the small, harmless southern flannel moth, but before it spreads it wings, the creature is deemed a danger to the public

The puss caterpillar is the larva of the small, harmless southern flannel moth, but before it spreads it wings, the creature is deemed a danger to the public

Officials note that the toxic caterpillar population is kept under control by natural enemies, but chemical insecticides will be deployed if necessary

Officials note that the toxic caterpillar population is kept under control by natural enemies, but chemical insecticides will be deployed if necessary

Eric Day, manager of Virginia Tech’s Insect Identification Lab, said the puss is not commonly found in the state, as officials only receive about one or two sightings, but ‘seems to be an outbreak year.’

Officials are warning parents to watch their children, as the caterpillar does appear to have soft hair and a child may want to pet the creature.

In 1923, two schools in Texas closed temporarily following numerous reports of puss caterpillars stinging children.

The puss has also made its way to Florida where it sent a 15-year-old boy to the hospital. Andrea Pergola heard her son Logan let out a scream while they stood in their driveway. She looked at her son's arm and saw a giant welt forming along with a strange pattern that looked similar to a burn mark

The puss has also made its way to Florida where it sent a 15-year-old boy to the hospital. Andrea Pergola heard her son Logan let out a scream while they stood in their driveway. She looked at her son’s arm and saw a giant welt forming along with a strange pattern that looked similar to a burn mark

Virginia Tech shared in a statement: ‘A person ‘stung’ by a poisonous caterpillar should immediately wash the affected area to remove any insect hairs and poison that remain on the skin.

‘Adhesive tape can be applied to the skin and removed quickly to pull out some of the hairs embedded in the skin.’

The team also urges individuals who are sensitive to insect stings to seek medical attention.

The puss has also made its way to Florida where it sent a 15-year-old boy to the hospital.

Andrea Pergola heard her son Logan let out a scream while they stood in their driveway.

She looked at her son’s arm and saw a giant welt forming along with a strange pattern that looked similar to a burn mark. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk