Toxic Toupee: Explaining the Nation’s Most Toxic Caterpillar
by Carrie Arnold
No warm and fuzzy here—a possible boom in a highly toxic but irresistibly touchable caterpillar is sending people in the eastern U.S. to the hospital.
Young children from Florida to North Carolina are reporting excruciating pain after coming into contact with the most venomous caterpillar in the U.S., the furry puss caterpillar aka "asp" , the larva of the Flannel Moth (Megalopyge opercularis), according to news reports. Some have petted the insect; others have been injured when the caterpillars fell onto them from trees.
The puss caterpillar got its name because it resembles a cuddly house cat, said University of Florida entomologist Don Hall. While these insects may look soft, their outer comb-over (which some have compared to a toupee) hides small, extremely toxic spines that stick in your skin…
(read more: National Geographic)
photos: George Grail, National Geo
(Also see “Scat-Firing Caterpillars Elude Predators.”)