Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Question of the Week – Puss Caterpillar

Posted by romeethredge on November 1, 2013

Last week I had a photo that had been sent to me by Jimmy Laska, he’s an agronomist with DuPont crop protection. Here are the comments he also had.

Check out this critter! It somehow got into my shirt sleeve while hunting this morning and stung me 3 or 4 times before I figured out it was in there.  Never seen anything like this, but very painful sting that almost felt like I had been injected with some type of a neurotoxin. It felt like lightning bolts up and down my arm for about 30 mins then started having muscular pain from shoulder to wrist.  Sting site very red and swollen. Almost went to ER but discomfort finally started to subside.

                Any idea what this is?  I couldn’t see any discernible stingers on it and it was as hairy as a pup. (note bushy wagging tail)  I couldn’t see any eyes and it curled into a ball when agitated. “

It was the dangerous Puss caterpillar that is so named because it looks somewhat like a miniature pussy cat. Just touching it or brushing against it can be very painful.

Later Jimmy commented further: “Thanks to your help, I now know that is the very painful “Puss” caterpillar! “Megalopyge opercularis” LOL :)
According to Google, its the most dangerous caterpillar in all the US and Central America!
The pain and swelling lasted through that night.  Thanks again for the cellophane tape trick!  It worked great for removing those poisonus hairs from my arm.”

Here are the 3 most common caterpillars found in Georgia that have venomous spines.For more information you can go to the UGA Publication, “Stinging and Biting Pests” at this link.

Puss Caterpillars:

Puss caterpillarPuss caterpillar

Puss caterpillars may be pale yellow, gray or reddish brown, about 1 inch long and densely covered with hairs. Among these hairs are hollow spines with venom. Stings on the hand can cause the entire arm to swell and become numb. Later, there can be severe pain followed by itching. Young children are often more severely affected. Large population increases in local areas can cause a problem.

Saddleback Caterpillars:

Saddleback caterpillarSaddleback caterpillar

The saddleback caterpillar is approximately 1 inch long and has a brown slug-like body with a green mid-section. In the middle of the green mid-section there is a distinctive brown saddle mark with a white border. Venom-filled spines are located on fleshy “knobs” on all sides of its body. Contact with this caterpillar’s spines can be extremely painful and severe reactions are possible for sensitive individuals.

Hag Moth Caterpillars:

Hag Moth caterpillarHag Moth caterpillar

The hag moth caterpillar is a strange-looking brownish caterpillar with six pairs of curly projections, three long and three short, coming from the flattened body. The plume-like projections on its back project out to the sides, suggesting the disarranged hairs of a hag. Among the brown hairs on the projections are longer black stinging hairs. These caterpillars are solitary and can easily be mistaken for leaf debris.

This week I have this question for you. What is this all over the back of this county agent?DSC00111


3 Responses to “Question of the Week – Puss Caterpillar”

  1. Jimmy Laska said

    Looks like beggar lice or beggar Weed. Please tell him do not come and roll in my yard! Thanks, Jimmy

  2. Taylor mills said

    Beggarlice weed

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