The authorities of Virginia, have alerted citizens to the danger of poisonous hairy caterpillars that have been observed somewhat frequently in recent times in the state.
Popularly known as the Puss caterpillar, the Megalopyge opercularis is considered one of the most poisonous caterpillars in the United States.
According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, there have been several reports of the caterpillar appearing in “nearby parks or structures” in eastern Virginia.
“The ‘hairs’ of this caterpillar are actually poisonous spines that cause a painful reaction if touched,” the entity explained through its Facebook page.
Crystal Spindel Gaston, a Richmond, Virginia resident, accidentally touched a Megalopyge opercularis. The woman described the pain as “a scorching-hot knife” piercing her leg. The excruciating pain forced her to go to the emergency room. According to her account, it would be three days before she felt normal again.
In addition to severe pain, the reaction to a stuffed caterpillar bite can include rashes, vomiting, swollen glands and fever.
“It’s not going to reach out and bite you, but if someone brushes up against that hair, it’ll release toxins that you’ll have a reaction to,” explained Theresa Dellinger, an expert of the Laboratory of Insect identification at Virginia Tech, told CNN.
Eric Day, lab manager, explained that these caterpillars are often rare in Virginia. This year, however, they became quite abundant for some reason, probably a natural cycle.
“It just seems to be an outbreak year,” Day told The Daily Progress.
Dellinger recommends that bug victims rinse the area well with soap and water, apply ice, and take aspirin for pain. If the pain is unbearable, it is best to seek medical help, as Gaston did.