Stinging Caterpillar from Mexico

Subject: Burning Caterpillar
Location: Tlaxcala, Mexico
February 12, 2014 9:57 am
We recently moved to Central Mexico (state of Tlaxcala) and my SIL who is a Mexican national brought in this caterpillar and advised me to tell my children that they were not to play with it as it causing a burning sensation when the hairs on the back are touched. Living in the US, we always played with caterpillars so this spiked my curiousity.
Signature: Krystal L (ArmyMustang)

Possibly Tussock Moth Caterpillar
Possibly Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hi Krystal,
Many caterpillars have utricating hairs that come off when they are handled and these hairs may cause irritation in sensitive individuals.  Tussock Moth Caterpillars fall into that group and this appears to be a Tussock Moth Caterpillar.  BugGuide provides this information on the White Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar:  “CAUTION: Avoid handling the caterpillar, as its hair is known to cause allergic reactions, especially in areas of the body with sensitive skin (e.g. back, stomach, inner arms). Seek medical treatment if a severe reaction occurs.”  Though it is not your species, your individual might be closely related.  Perhaps your SIL is being overly cautious as there are other caterpillars in Mexico that can cause severe reactions like this Mexican Flannel Moth Caterpillar.

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