Little white and black caterpillars all over are POISONOUS. they are apparently new to the area..... doctors say there has been numerous kids having reactions to them. the rash spreads fast. the caterpillars have long white hairs that embed in skin and send poison through out the body. DO NOT TOUCH and DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS TOUCH!!! they look cute and fuzzy and THEY ARE NOT! Please repost to everyone you know with little kids!!
Origins: In August 2011 the warning quoted above began circulating in e-mail and via social networking sites such as Facebook.
The caterpillar being decried is the White Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar, which is native in Canada from Nova Scotia to Ontario and in the U.S. from the northeast to the south central part of the country. It appears between June and
September and munches its way through the leaves of deciduous trees (it prefers nut-bearing trees, but will
settle for willow, ash, aspen, apple, oak, and even raspberry plants and corn stalks). While it does make rather a feast of the leaves it dines on, it does not tend to cause lasting damage to the trees themselves.
The caterpillar excretes a venom upon contact. Most people who handle these critters will experience a burning, nettle-type, itchy rash of mild to moderate severity. Washing the affected area with soap and water, then applying ammonia or calamine lotion, followed by icing the area should set things to rights.
However, some folks are hypersensitive to the venom and have allergic reactions to same. In addition to the itchy rash, they are likely to experience more severe symptoms such as swelling and nausea. Those individuals should seek expert medical advice as soon as possible.