News & Politics

Yikes, These Weird-Looking Poisonous Caterpillars Are on the Loose in Virginia


Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Be on the lookout for a toxic toupee, poisonous to the touch. One of the most venomous caterpillars in the world, the puss caterpillar, has been spotted in eastern Virginia, reports the Virginia Department of Forestry.

While the caterpillar’s coif looks like the product of an expensive salon shampoo, the hair is actually home to poison spines. According to National Geographic, the prick at first feels like a painful bee sting, but it could eventually land you in the hospital with intense pain, fever, nausea, and even symptoms of shock. Virginia isn’t necessarily unusual territory for the bug: It can be found on the east coast from Florida up to New Jersey, and then westward from Arkansas to Texas. So if you do come across the insect, avoid the urge to pet it like a dog. Instead, you should just leave it alone.


#SocialDistance away from this caterpillar! VDOF’s forest health team has received reports of the puss caterpillar in…

Posted by Virginia Department of Forestry on Tuesday, October 6, 2020


Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in NoMa.