Udayavni Special

What are ‘furry puss caterpillars’ and ‘murder hornets’, the insects terrorizing US?


Team Udayavani, Oct 12, 2020, 11:29 AM IST

Recently, the Asian giant hornet, a vicious predatory insect popularly dubbed the ‘murder hornet’ was first spotted in the US state of Washington. Now, health officials in Virginia are warning residents to watch out for another dangerous insect, the highly venomous furry puss caterpillar.

Officials from the Virginia Department of Forestry’s health team say they have received reports about what is known as the puss caterpillar, seen in a few eastern Virginia countries

Hairy puss caterpillar

The fluffy creature, which looks a bit like a human hair toupee is venomous. It is said that it is not going to reach out and bite, but if someone brushes up against that hair, it will release toxins that one will have a reaction to

According to the University of Florida’s entomology and nematology department, The hollow spines of puss caterpillars have a venom gland at the base. All larvae, as well as its exuviae (sloughed-off outer skin), can sting. The toxicity of the sting increases depending on the size of the larvae.

The sting produces an immediate intense burning pain followed by the appearance of a red grid-like pattern on the skin. Sometimes swollen or enlarged lymph nodes will follow.

Other reactions to the sting include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, low blood pressure, seizure, abdominal pain, muscle spasms and convulsions.

Murder Hornets

Murder hornets kill, at most, a few dozen people a year in Asia. It is described as 1.5 inches to 2 inches in length with an orange-yellow head and black stripes on its abdomen.

Washington State Department of Agriculture warns that one must not try to catch them if spotted nearby. The department wants anyone who sees any potential Asian giant hornet to report it to them so researchers can better pinpoint where the insects have been hiding before the “slaughter phase” begins.

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