Be careful! Poisonous caterpillars back on the prowl

Poison caterpillars could land people in hospitals.

TAMPA, Fla. -- One minute you’re enjoying the great outdoors and the next minute you’re covered in a nasty rash.

You can thank a poisonous caterpillar called puss. At first glance, they seem harmless and kinda cute.

Their fur is saturated in a powerful venom that some say leaves a sting far worse than that of bee, or even jellyfish.

In Florida, there are two generations a year, one in spring and the other in fall.

If a person comes in contact with these poisonous insects, the fur breaks off the caterpillar and pierces the skin, causing severe fire-like pain.

Some common reactions to the venom include itching and burning followed by convulsions and vomiting.

According to doctors at the University of Florida, puss caterpillars are most often found on oak and citrus. Many of their victims say they have simply fallen from trees.

Possible symptoms: Some people experience severe reactions to the poison released by the spines and require medical attention. Others experience only an itching or burning sensation.

The Poison Center of Tampa has some recommended treatment: Place Scotch tape over the affected area and strip off repeatedly to remove spines. Apply ice packs to reduce the stinging sensation, and follow with a paste of baking soda and water. If the victim has a history of hay fever, asthma or allergies, or if allergic reactions develop, contact a physician immediately

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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