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Florida Department of Health warns parents about 'fuzzy' caterpillars

The insect may look cute and fuzzy, but it's actually dangerous.

TAMPA, Fla. — There's no doubt about it, spring is in the air! 

It's a time of warmer weather, longer days, and more bugs.

The Florida Department of Health has a warning about one bug in particular parents should watch out for while their kids play outside. It's called Orgyia leucostigma-- or more commonly the white-marked tussock moth caterpillar.

The insect may look cute and fuzzy, but it's actually dangerous.

Health experts say direct contact with the caterpillar or its cacoon can cause an allergic reaction that can involve an itchy rash. The Department of Health also said its hairs are barbed and can be hard to get out of the skin.

This is what health leaders say you should do if you or your child is exposed to one of these caterpillars: 

  • Remove the caterpillar from the skin without using bare hands. 
  • Gently put any kind of tape over the exposed area with the sticky side facing the exposed skin. 
  • Pull up the tape, removing any hairs or spines.
  • Repeat with fresh pieces of tape as often as needed to treat the exposed skin.
  • Wash the area gently with soap and water. 
  • Apply an ice pack to reduce stinging sensation and apply a paste of baking soda and water to reduce itchiness. 
  • If the rash does not go away, gets worse, or gets badly blistered, consider consulting with a healthcare provider for further evaluation and recommendations.

You can read more about Florida's stinging caterpillars here.

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