In general, fuzzy black caterpillars are not toxic. The Bag Shelter Caterpillar, however, is one of the most deadly caterpillars in Brazil and Venezuela. In addition, the White Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar, a black-and-white fuzzy caterpillar found in the United States and Canada, produces poison when touched.
The White Hickory Tussock Caterpillar inhabits significant portions of the United States and Canada. Typically, it emerges only between June and September. In 2011, Internet claims began to circulate that these caterpillars were toxic. Although the stories were somewhat alarmist, it was true that these caterpillars produce venom. Many people develop rashes after handling them, and others experience severe symptoms such as edoema and nausea.
The majority of venomous caterpillars are stinging caterpillars; their hollow hairs are connected to poison sacs beneath their epidermis. When these hairs come into contact with a human, they puncture the skin and allow the venom to pour through. The United States is home to numerous species of stinging caterpillars, but none of them are black and fuzzy.
If someone gets stung, he should use special tape to remove any remaining caterpillar hairs and then wash the affected area with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection.
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