FLORIDA, USA — Florida's puss caterpillar. Maybe you've heard of it, maybe this is the first time. It's one of the United States' most venomous insects. Because why wouldn't the state that has "Florida Man" have a tiny dangerous bug?
The puss caterpillar grows into the southern flannel moth, but before it does, it's a one-inch long "furry"-looking insect usually adorned with an orange stripe down its back. But these hair-like bristles hide a dangerous secret — "extremely toxic" spines that get embedded into your skin, according to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
The sting from these spines can cause a lot of pain that radiates throughout the body, so it's recommended to get them out of your skin as soon as possible. And a good way to do that is via cellophane tape.
Methods to ease the pain of those stings include using ice packs, oral antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream. But, it's best to avoid touching it at all.
This fascinating insect could inspire you to share that knowledge next time you see someone at the water cooler, or at your next brunch get-together. But, with all this talk about puss caterpillars, you may be wondering how to pronounce this tiny creature's name.
We've got you covered here, too. One of the easiest ways to know how to say it is to think of Puss-In-Boots when you think of this caterpillar, not the goo that comes out of a pimple. Here's a video on how to pronounce it, too.
The puss caterpillar isn't only found in Florida, however; it can be found in several different states including New Jersey, Arkansas and Texas.
Here in Florida, they usually like to hang out on oak and elm trees during the fall and spring, so be mindful of that as you enjoy the Sunshine State's beautiful nature.
But they aren't always swarming around because the southern flannel moth and its larvae go through "boom-and-bust cycles," and their population can also be impacted by weather, food availability and the number of parasites.