BEWARE: This Cute Caterpillar Is Toxic And Venomous
If you see these caterpillars don't touch them. They have black spines that are packed with venom to ward off predators.
Most species in its family of caterpillars acquire potentially toxic chemical defenses from their host plants, but this particular caterpillar is also venomous.
According to Wikipedia, the larva, a caterpillar, is completely covered in long, hairlike setae arranged in spreading tufts. Most are white, but there are black tufts along the middle of the back, and four long black hair pencils, two near the front, and two near the back. These hairs cause an itchy, especially for those prone to allergies. They are microscopically barbed and can cause a serious medical situation if they get into your eyes.
Look for the caterpillars between July and October feeding and skeletonizing leaves in groups of about 100. Older larvae are solitary. They grow up to 4.5 centimeters long before pupating.
Some reports say the hickory tussock moth is new to the area, but we've seen them around for years. Keep your eyes peeled and snap a picture if you see one, but remember not to touch it.
In this 30-second video, you get a close look at a hickory tussock moth (Lophocampa caryae) larva (caterpillar) and please note it was recorded in the Catskills.
Thank you, Don Hartman, of Potting Shed Antiques for the photo.