Mom sees her kids with little furry animal in park – looks closer and realizes big danger

For centuries, humans have developed instincts and, above all, gained the knowledge to know which animals and other creatures to keep away from.

Although most wildlife is completely harmless to us humans, it is important to be on alert when you are out in nature.

That’s what mother Leslie Howe did when she was at a small park with her family.

Back in 2014, Leslie, a mother from Georgia, discovered something strange close to her children at their local playground.

It had so far been an ordinary day out with the kids — but then Leslie caught sight of a strange furry creature shaped like a ball, reports USA Today.

The mother followed her instincts. And it would turn out to be a very good decision.

”Feels like a wasp sting, but worse”

Leslie was in the park in Gwinnett County, Georgia, with her baby and two other young children when the ”fur ball” caught her attention. It was small and at first sight looked unassuming and harmless, but she instinctively felt the need to stay away. While this story was first reported a few years ago, it’s been spreading online again to help warn all American parents of the danger.

What lay under the fur which was indeed dangerous, and since that day Leslie hopes her story can help warn others to stay clear of the suspect fur ball: a Megalopyge Opercularis larva, better known as the puss caterpillar.

The name is probably in reference to the caterpillar’s resemblance to a cat’s soft fur. But despite its harmless exterior, the insect contains poison that it can inject. It’s covered in hair that disguises toxic bristles.

These larvae, who can grow to a little over 1 inch long, are found in much of the United States. According to NPR, they could be found ”feasting on foliage in states between New Jersey and Florida and as far west as Texas.”

The puss caterpillar’s sting is brutal and it should never be touched. Doing so could cause them to stick to you and inject you with their venom.

”It feels like a wasp sting but worse. The pain hits immediately and gets worse after the creature sticks, and can even make your bones hurt. How badly it gets stuck depends on where it gets stuck and how many tags have dug into your skin. People who’ve had it stuck on their hands have reported feeling the pain up to their shoulders and it lasting for up to twelve hours,” ethnologist Don Hall told National Geographic, according to Expressen.

Eric Day, manager of Virginia Tech’s Insect ID La, has undoubtedly felt the pain of a sting from the puss caterpillar. While mowing the lawn at his home in rural Virginia, he brushed a tree and was stung by the odd-locking caterpillar.

”The burning sensation went away in a day or so, but that blister and then subsequent kind of irritated area was visible for several weeks,” he recalled.

If you are stung by this caterpillar, you should use tape to remove the venomous hairs and then gently wash the area with soap and water. According to the National Capital Poison Center, you can also use hydrocortisone cream or a baking soda on the area, if the sting site begins to itch. Should it become worse, seek medical attention.

Puss caterpillars are very rarely deadly, but the sting could cause anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.

Take a look at the unusual and mysterious caterpillar here:

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