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Disney Travelers! Florida Warns NOT to Touch Fuzzy Caterpillars

Florida-caterpillar-warning
Images Credit: Disney / Clipart

The Sunshine State is calling for you! As Walt Disney World Resort welcomes Spring and Summer Guests this year, Florida has sent out an interesting message NOT to touch fuzzy caterpillars.

You’ve planned and you’ve saved. Chances are you’re preparing to explore the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, take a dip at Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, and simply celebrate the Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary at Magic Kingdom and surrounding Disney Parks.

50-anniversary-magic-kingdom
Credit: Disney

However you plan to get away to Central Florida, you’ll want to take note (and advise those friends and family members headed to the area) that just because something is cute and fuzzy does NOT mean you should touch it.

Florida may be known for its prehistoric and massive-looking alligators, but something as small as a fuzzy caterpillar is also something to avoid!

tussock-moth-caterpillar
Credit: Florida Department of Health

From mid-April to early May, Florida Health Officials are warning residents and visitors of Florida to avoid touching fuzzy caterpillars.

According to Orlando Sentinel, the white-marked tussock moth caterpillar can cause skin irritation if touched.

Most recently, Florida day cares and schools have been reporting cases of skin irritation as children are innocently touching white-marked tussock moth caterpillars.

tussock-moth-caterpillar
Credit: Florida Department of Health

Donald W. Hall and Lyle Buss with the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida have revealed touching these fuzzy caterpillars and their cocoons can cause irritation.

Florida has three tussock moth species which become prevalent as they drop from trees and search for a place to make their cocoons mid-Spring and into Summer.

tussock-moth-caterpillar
Credit: Florida Department of Health

The seemingly cute and innocent hairs of the white-marked caterpillars have venom glands. Not only does the venom gland cause skin irritation, but tussock moth caterpillars have stinging hairs with barbs that can be harmful and difficult to remove.

So, what do you do if they are stung by hairy caterpillars? Florida Officials say to put tape over the area of the skin that was stung. This way it will be easy to remove the spines as you peel off the tape from your skin.

tussock-moth-caterpillar
Credit: Florida Department of Health

Follow up the tape and spine removal by washing the area well with soap and water. An ice pack to ease the pain and itch along with baking soda also helps with the sting. If stung, skin irritation can last for a day or longer.

As much as Disney is all about exploring your surroundings, avoiding the urge to touch a fuzzy venomous caterpillar is worth warning friends and family about!

About Jamie Sylvester

I'm a Disney nerd! A kid at heart who loves the magic and memories of Walt Disney World. I follow all things Disney and enjoy the vacations, day trips, and weekend getaways, and geek out over the planning of such events. My goal is to experience as many Disney desserts and cocktails as possible! Married to another Disney nerd and blessed with a daughter and son, we thoroughly enjoy the magic at Disney and are here to help others experience the magic as well.

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