TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida health officials are warning residents to keep an eye out for colorful, fuzzy caterpillars seen outdoors this time of year, WESH reports.
Kids playing outside may encounter the white-marked tussock moth caterpillar, which can cause an allergic reaction when touched, the Seminole County Health Department said.
The caterpillar’s long, spiky hairs can stick to human skin and cause redness, irritation, and welts.
“We have in the past seen outbreaks where people get concerned naturally, because all these children have a rash thinking it’s something contagious when it’s actually just related to those caterpillars,” health department spokesman Kevin Baker told WESH.
“Once they get into the skin they can cause an irritation and even an allergic reaction, that can cause a rash,” Baker added. “Just don’t touch it, let it be.”
If you touch one of the caterpillars and need to stop the stinging and prevent a rash, cover the affected area with tape and rip it off. Then wash the area with soap and water and use ice and baking soda to stop the irritation.