Caterpillars are so cute and cuddly, but the ASP Caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis) is extremely dangerous!
The species can be found in Florida, North Carolina, and parts of the East Coast. Recently, children have been admitted to the hospital after encountering the most venomous caterpillar in the United States.
The furry insect has a variety of nicknames including the southern flannel moths, puss caterpillars, or tree asps. More and more of these bugs have been reported this year alone!
Most of the time, they are out of harms way in trees. But people have been finding them in their garden bushes. Their furry-like exterior may look cute, but they are actually toxic spines that inject a painful venom. People that have been stung by the caterpillar say you can feel the sting in your bone! The pain can last as long as 12 hours in some cases.
If you happen to get stung by the ASP Caterpillar, the first thing you need to do is remove any spines that may be stuck to your skin and apply ice packs to minimize inflammation. If you have trouble breathing, make sure ot seek medical attention as you most likely are having an allergic reaction.
If you see one of these caterpillars, it is best to report it to your local wildlife organization.