People hoping to enjoy the outdoors during the last pleasant days of the summer/fall season may find some painful encounters with nature in the form of a small, hairy bug.

During a recent cookout in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, one of the diners yelled:  "Don't Touch It!"  as a tiny white, furry caterpillar was seen crawling on one of the lawn chairs.

A year earlier, one of the nieces experienced a painful, burning rash when she unwittingly touched what turned out to be a White Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Hickory Tiger Moth or Tussock caterpillar.

The unsuspecting victim suffered burning and itching from contact with the toxic insect.

The bugs are about an inch long and become moths after feeding on a wide species of trees prevalent in New York and Pennsylvania like Maple, Oak and Ash.  They can be a particular hazard and nuisance to people harvesting fall fruits like apples.

The sting of the caterpillars, which are native to Canada, can cause a red, burning allergic reaction within minutes.

Washing the affected site and anti-rash medications can help the symptoms, which could linger for days in the case of the young woman at the family picnic, who relayed her first-hand encounter.

If the burning lingers or spreads, medical attention should be sought.


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