Poisonous Saddleback Caterpillars Showing Up In Virginia As Experts Warn Of Painful Sting

“It's almost akin to getting hit by a jellyfish.”

<p>tzooka/Getty Images</p>

tzooka/Getty Images

Spiky, green caterpillars with painful stings have been popping up in the eastern United States.

With their distinct, saddle-like markings, saddleback caterpillars are quite the sight. But don’t let your curiosity get the best of you, these little creatures are covered in hairs that secrete an irritating venom.

Bonnie Tillotson, an Extension Agent with Virginia Tech, spoke to WSET about these unique-looking insects after Lynchburg area residents reported an increase in sightings last week.

"You know it as soon as you get hit. It's almost akin to getting hit by a jellyfish," Tillotson told the local news outlet.

Saddleback caterpillars are the larva of a species of moth belonging to the family Limacodidae. Usually less than one inch in size, they are primarily green and brown at both ends. They can be easily identified by a large white-ringed brown dot that resembles a saddle. Saddleback caterpillars have poisonous spines on their four horn-like tubercles and many smaller ones protruding from the sides of its body

Tillotson told WSET that these spines are so fine that you need to remove them from your skin using tape.

According to the University of Georgia Extension, the irritation can last for a day or two and may initially be accompanied by nausea. The site of contact will likely redden and swell like a bee sting.  More severe reactions are possible though unlikely.

If you're unfortunate enough to have a run in with a saddleback caterpillar, put Scotch tape over the affected area and strip it off repeatedly to remove spines. Next apply ice packs to reduce the stinging sensation and slather on a paste of baking soda and water.

Fortunately, saddleback caterpillars are most active in the summer months, so they should start disappearing soon.

Be careful out there, y’all!

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