Reports of the Puss Caterpillar Around Virginia
The Department of Forestry in Virginia has had numerous reports of puss caterpillars crawling around the state. The caterpillars are about an inch and a half long and resemble a shag rug and a mated clamshell.
Puss caterpillars have a fuzz that hides their spines filled with poison. It’s considered to be the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States and one of its stings can cause vomiting, nausea, swelling, itching, and feelings of anxiety.
In the past few weeks, there have been a few different reports of encounters with these caterpillars, including one from a woman in the Richmond area. She touched one and said that it felt like a scorching hot knife had passed through the outside of her calf. She got admitted to the emergency room to have the sting treated.
A Surprising Outbreak
The appearance of these caterpillars in Virginia was surprising, and no one was expecting them. They typically range as far up north as New Jersey, but mainly hang out in the South, including in parts of Texas.
Since Virginia had a wet and pretty warm summer, the caterpillars have probably been drawn to the state. A diagnostician that works at the Insect Identification Lab at Virginia Tech, Theresa Dellinger, said that with the many changes in our climate, we’re often seeing many insects change their population. It is too soon to tell if they will permanently relocate or become more common to the state of Virginia.