Move Over Browntails, The Puss Caterpillar is Here to Ruin Your Day
Why does Mother Nature keep trying to hurt me?
For real. What's up with this? Ok, to be fair, we don't have scorpions, or rattlesnakes (allegedly), or any other host of nasty critters that want to do us serious harm. You might be inconvenienced by Maine's worst bugs and animals, but rarely will anyone end up in the hospital for anything like that.
But still... As soon as the cold air stops blowing my face off, we go right into everything in the air and on the ground trying to bite me. We've talked at length about browntail moth caterpillars, and they're later season evil counterparts, the tussock caterpillar. But now we get to talk about a relative newcomer to the scene, the puss caterpillar, also known as an asp.
Yes, it totally has the grossest name of all.
That's kind of ironic, because the puss caterpillar is absolutely the cutest of all of them. They look like a little mini Cousin It from the Addams Family, as described by NPR. When I first saw this article, I was relieved because it listed New Jersey as their northern border. Sigh of relief, right?
But a quick glance at Maine.gov reveals that they're on our list of stinging caterpillars. And what's worse, it sounds like it's the worst rash of all, even leaving behind a visible mark from the rash, which may last several weeks, as opposed to the BTM rash only lasting a few days. Some compare it to having shingles.
They have spiny barbs that get the sting waaaay down in your skin. It sounds awful. They like to hide under leaves that are still on the trees. So beware as you're doing your yard work this fall. Their sting sounds downright nasty. Once again, thank Mother Nature for such a magnificent little stinging machine. Ugh.