If You See This Fuzzy Little Caterpillar, Don’t Touch It!!
I've stared seeing these little buggers all over my yard, and horror of horrors, I felt a little something on my wrist last night, and there was one crawling right on me. Yuck! I don't consider myself a giant wuss, but I may have let out a little yelp, and immediately flicked the little demon away from me.
The White Hickory Tussock Caterpillar is pretty easy to identify. It's about an inch long, and mostly white, except for some black spots, and some bristle-y black hairs. They even look itchy. and that's the problem. If you get the little barbed hairs trapped in your skin, it will give you a wicked nasty rash. If you're super unlucky and then touch your eyes, you will need to seek medical attention immediately, according to Wikipedia.
And looking at the UMaine Cooperative Extension page, the Maine Forest Service says that even they're cocoons can cause a rash, because they're made of their own hairs, plus leaf debris. So don't touch any fuzzy cocoons around the yard either. Especially during fall cleanup. they're everywhere.
So once again, we get lulled to sleep, thinking our yards are among the safest in the world. Only to find out they're teeming with fuzzy beasts, waiting to do you crazy amounts of harm. It's just another cruel twist to our idyllic life here in Maine. I gotta say...Mother Nature is just mean.