Tropicals forum: Florida people, have you heard about ---

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Name: Melissa E. Keyes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Zone 11+
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coconut
Sep 10, 2014 9:40 AM CST
It's a fat, furry caterpillar that is popping up in trees across Florida, and it's known as the "puss caterpillar," or Megalopyge opercularis.

But whatever you do, do not touch this bug. Stay away from it, scientists say.

Its fur is actually covered in venom. Doctors from the University of Florida say the second you touch this caterpillar you feel instant, intense pain.

The pain is worse than a bee, jellyfish, or scorpion, and it can also cause vomiting and convulsions.

Doctors say be aware of them while working outdoors because they are known to fall out of trees.

http://www.myfoxla.com/story/26437401/florida-scientists-don...
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Sep 10, 2014 9:47 AM CST
I don't know whether we get these caterpillars here in NE Mississippi. I don't ever remember seeing one but I will sure be on the lookout now that I see a picture of what they look like. Thanks, Melissa.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Melissa E. Keyes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Zone 11+
Charter ATP Member
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coconut
Sep 10, 2014 10:19 AM CST
The moth is pretty, fuzzy and fuzzy-legged, light browns and whites. I'm guessing about an inch long. If you google images, "puss caterpillar," or Megalopyge opercularis.
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
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Dutchlady1
Sep 10, 2014 10:20 AM CST
Thanks Melissa; the word is spreading around here.
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Sep 10, 2014 10:27 AM CST
I agree The word is spreading. Our local paper had an article about it last week.

They feed on a variety of landscape plants, but seem to prefer Oaks and Citrus.
[Last edited by terrafirma - Sep 10, 2014 10:43 AM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 10, 2014 11:30 AM CST
Here's a site with a map showing the range of these critters.
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges...

Looks like you do have them in Mississippi, Ken. Texas also, and up the East Coast as far as the Chesapeake at least! Ick! As if we needed another stinging insect around here! I'm getting out my Bt sprayer right away!

Oh, and here's a good site for first aid treatment if you do get stung. http://www.wikihow.com/Treat-a-Caterpillar-Sting
Elaine

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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Sep 10, 2014 11:31 AM CST

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We've had those in Texas for at least 45 years! We call them Asps. They do pack a powerful sting if you brush up against them. In San Antonio, I had my first and only encounter with one on an Ash tree. I never wanted to feel that pain again! I have only seen one in Austin and it was on the side of our house, blending in with the limestone rock. I sent him to moth heaven.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Sep 10, 2014 11:46 AM CST
OK, now I KNOW I will keep an eye out for them. Thanks.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Sep 12, 2014 8:06 AM CST
How does an encounter with this guy compare to a saddleback caterpillar?
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ‘’โ˜€๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒด๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒฝ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฒ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Sep 12, 2014 8:56 AM CST
The sting of the Saddleback caterpillar is bad, but it is said that the Puss Caterpillar sting severity is the most intense.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Sep 12, 2014 12:10 PM CST
TYVM. I hope I don't have any accidental encounters with either. Oak trees are definitely ubiquitous in this area.

"Larvae of the southern flannel moth are polyphagous (Heppner 1997) and are recorded from plant species belonging to 41 genera (Heppner 2003). Some host records may be erroneous. Like many other Lepidoptera larvae, mature puss caterpillars sometimes wander from the host plant and onto other nearby plants prior to spinning their cocoons. Cocoons may even be found on buildings.

In north central Florida, puss caterpillars are most common on various species of oaks but are also common on elms - including both native species and the exotic Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia Jacquin. Young larvae feed by skeletonizing leaves (Figure 9) and later eat small holes in the leaves. Late instars are leaf-edge feeders and curl the front of the thorax over the leaves as they feed (Figures 12 and 13). Khalaf (1974) reared larvae on a wheat germ artificial diet and reported ranges of times required for development of two different sets of first generation larvae of 63 to 97 and 53 to 87 days."
- http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Creatures/MISC/MOTHS/puss.htm

Wow, 41 genera of potential host plants, really makes them hard to avoid that way.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ‘’โ˜€๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒด๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒฝ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฒ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Sep 12, 2014 12:21 PM CST
Yes, makes them very hard to avoid. That's why it's so important to keep your wits about you when interacting with nature. Especially watching where you step, and where you put your hands. Ah, mother nature! Always keeping us on our toes! Hilarious!

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