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If you see this caterpillar, look but don't touch

October 5, 2012

Photo by Victoria Stanish – This fuzzy little caterpillar may look cute, but the hairs on its body can cause a burning, stinging sensation and rash when touched, so specimens of this kind should be avoided. Known as the white hickory Tussock moth caterpillar, the insect may be found in the area; this one was at Veolia Greentree Landfill in Fox Township, Elk County.

Most caterpillars are harmless, but there is one specimen that area residents should take care to avoid.
The white hickory Tussock moth caterpillar (identification for the photo above was confirmed by McKean County Cooperative Extension and an entomologist at Penn State), the black-and-white insect is native to parts of Canada and the northeastern and south central United States and appears in early summer to fall.

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