Costa Rican Hairy
We all love to gaze in wonder at the fragile beauty of the colorful butterfly or moth as it flutters gracefully through the air, but we should not forget that the young of these lovely creatures can be just as as glorious to behold, even if they do take the forms of rather creepy caterpillars.
One should, however, be careful about touching these beasties, because some of them protect themselves with substances that are really bad for you.
Image: Sean Mack
1. The Bag Shelter Caterpiller
Bag shelter caterpillars, members of the ‘processionary’ caterpillar family, are among the worst, and should on no account be touched. The larvae live inside a brown bag, made of silk, after which they are named, coming out in nighttime hours to feed on host plants such as beefwood.
When moving between plants and trees, bag shelter caterpillars go head to tail, forming the typical procession that gives rise to the naming of the family. The poison these creatures employ is nasty, and in Southern Brazil and Venezuela is considered a public health problem.
People who are unfortunate enough to touch one of these bag shelter caterpillars can suffer bleeding both external and internal because the venom is highly anti-coagulant. The caterpillars defend themselves with bristles attached to venom glands. The chemicals within the poison produced by the South American Silk Moth are potent enough that a human can easily bleed to death if affected by them.