TEXAS – It’s hairy, it may be cute, but trust us when we say you don’t want to go anywhere near it.
One of the most venomous caterpillars in the nation has been spotted in Virginia earlier this week, according to a recent CNN report, and in case you weren’t aware, they are already commonly found in the state of Texas.
The Virginia Department of Forestry told CNN it received several reports of puss caterpillars, or flannel moth sightings, inhabiting parks or other similar structures in eastern Virginia. Officials are now warning residents to stay away from them.
Puss caterpillars won’t jump out and bite you if you see them out and about at Texas parks or in wooded areas; however, it’s their thick, furry coat that you’ll need to worry about.
The caterpillar’s coat has venomous hairs that stick to skin when it comes in contact, causing a very unpleasant reaction.
The venom can cause painful burning and a rash, "intense throbbing pain that develops immediately or within the first five minutes” of touching them, or you may also have headaches, nausea, vomiting, shock or respiratory stress, Texas A&M officials say.
One resident in Richmond, Virginia tells CNN the pain of touching one of these caterpillars feels like a “scorching-hot knife.”
In Texas, these caterpillars are most commonly found in the late summer, early fall seasons and they can be found in shaded trees and shrubbery around homes, schools, parks and other outdoor areas, according to Texas A&M officials.
The best advice? If you see one, steer clear. However, if you do get stung, use an ice pack and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen.
To learn more about these caterpillars, visit Texas A&M’s website here.