This Adorable Yet Venomous Caterpillar Is Inching Its Way Across New York and Pennsylvania
Meet the hickory tussock caterpillar. This little crawler sure is adorable but looks can be deceiving and this is one caterpillar you want to stay far away from. Why? Because it is venomous. The hickory tussock caterpillar is a native of Canada but has been spotted in the United States including in both New York and Pennsylvania.
In the late summer to early fall, the caterpillars can be seen crawling around the foliage and while you might be tempted to reach out a hand and touch a hickory tussock, you'll want to think twice because their black spine is loaded with venom to ward off predators. Some of the hair on the hickory tussock has barbs and they can and will break off and get stuck in your skin. This is where the trouble starts. The black hairs contain venom and when the barbs get stuck in your skin, they release a chemical that can also be spread onto the surface of your skin.
The venom of the hickory tussock is not poisonous which means that if you do have a brush with one, you probably won't face any super serious health problems, but you will likely have an allergic reaction which may lead to an itchy, burning rash or welts. The good news is that any reaction you experience should diminish within 24 hours as long as you make sure to completely remove the barbs and treat the affected area with an antihistamine. If you experience a greater reaction, you should seek medical attention.