Pus caterpillars with stings like a ‘scorching hot knife’ are turning up all over Virginia

A bizarre little insect that looks like a walking toupée and squirts venomous pus from knifelike spines is terrorizing Virginia this year, according to the state’s Department of Forestry (VDoF).

The venomous pus caterpillar is the larval form of the southern flannel moth (Megalopyge opercularis), and if you see one you should stay away from it. Its “hairs” are actually spines that make it among the most venomous caterpillars in the United States. A woman in New Kent County described the sensation of a “scorching hot knife passing through the outside of my calf” when she brushed against one on the door of her car, according to The Daily Progress

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