DADE CITY, Fla. (WSVN) — If you come across what appears to be an adorable ball of fluff in the grass, you may want to steer clear. It may actually be a venomous puss caterpillar.
Known as one of the most venomous caterpillar species in the country, the puss caterpillar can cause severe pain when it comes into contact with humans and animals.
“A puss caterpillar sting feels like a bee sting, only worse,” University of Florida entomologist Don Hall tells National Geographic. “The pain immediately and rapidly gets worse after being stung and can even make your bones hurt.”
According to Florida’s Poison Control Centers, the caterpillar is most active in Spring and Fall.
One woman, Bri Oteri, recently posted on Facebook about her experience with the creature.
Oteri said she was in Dade City and leaned against a fence when she immediately felt her wrist burning.
“I started screaming for my brother to get it off me. He had no clue what was happening,” she said. “It felt like fire ants in that moment. I looked down and saw this fuzzy thing moving across the wood.”
Oteri said an EMT cleaned her up and she went on about her morning, but then the pain came back much worse.
“In my chest… in my entire right arm, radiating from my wrist all throughout my arm and shoulder. I looked at my husband and said we need to go to the ER right now,” she wrote.
Oteri went to the ER and said she was in tears from the pain.
“Morphine didn’t even touch the pain. I cried and pleaded with God for hours to make it stop,” she said. “I’ve had 2 C-sections, other surgeries, and nothing came close to the pain. It felt like someone was drilling into my bones.”
Entomologists David Wagner and Ric Bessin told USA Today that the best way to react if you come in contact with the puss caterpillar is to carefully remove the insect with a stick or another object.
Once it is gone, they recommend taking a shower to remove the venom-filled hairs that may be left in your skin.
Scientists also recommend placing clear tape on the affected area to remove the spines, which will help decrease the pain.
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