Central New York has all sorts of cute, fuzzy critters you want to see up close - but not this caterpillar. The white caterpillar can cause rashes and hives in humans, just from a touch, and they've been found in the Utica-Rome area.

Credit: 'Nelly' via Facebook

The Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar, which is found in Central New York, and wide swaths of the northeast, are "fuzzy, white and black caterpillars that are often very apparent in the fall, sometimes in large numbers," says the Penn State Extension.

Unfortunately, some people are sensitive to the caterpillar's hairs - and that can cause them to break out in a rash and hives.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app
Photo Credit: AdrianB via YouTube

That's what happened to a little boy in Inlet a few years ago. The caterpillar crawled onto his back, and he had an immediate reaction. Fortunately, treatment with Benadryl was enough to make his feel a bit better, but the hives can stick around for several days.

 

Another young man was exposed to the caterpillar, and he too ended up with a rash that spread all over his torso.

Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillars can be found on trees and corn stalks. Contrary to popular belief, these caterpillars are not venomous - but they do use their hair to defend themselves - and that's what irritates the skin.

What should you do if you come across one of these caterpillars:

  • DON'T TOUCH IT
  • If you do touch it, wash your hands and any area of contact with soap and water.
  • If any little hairs get stuck in your skin, remove them like you would a splinter.
  • If you do get a rash, an oral and/or topical antihistamine, or a steroid cream can help.