Stinging caterpillars cause problem in Florida

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Photo credit: Linsepatron, Flickr

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation says residents likely won’t encounter stinging caterpillars this fall, despite booming populations in southern states.

A large population of pus caterpillars in Florida this year has stung locals, leaving a swelling, burning wound.

Residents have been calling the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center asking about the creature.

Pus caterpillars look like a brown lump of fur. The department says only a small population lives in Missouri, although they cause the most severe reaction of the state’s 15 species of venomous caterpillars.

Forest Entomologist Rob Lawrence advises against touching hairy caterpillars.

Spines from the insects that are stuck in people’s skin can be removed with scotch tape. Stings should be washed with soap and water and monitored in case of an allergic reaction.