A reader just wrote to us from Guyana (a country in South America) and asked us to speculate on what kind of worm is found in an almond tree. According to the reader, the worm doesn’t harm the tree, but touching it immediately leaves a blister and rash on the skin. Our reader also mentioned that this worm is found in other trees besides almond trees!
We don’t have a picture or any physical description of the worm, but we will make do with what we have been told!
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We believe there is a good chance that the “worm” our reader is talking about is the flannel moth caterpillar, also called a puss caterpillar. These caterpillars look like cotton balls with long spines shooting out. The spines are venomous, and upon contact cause stinging, a severe rash, and inflammation. Sometimes, someone who has come into contact with a puss caterpillar will also experience a headache and nausea, and might even need medical attention. In fact, this caterpillar is thought to be one of the moist venomous caterpillars the United States.
Local South Americans often warn visitors about this “worm”, which eats the foliage of many trees, including almond and mango trees! We hope our reader is asking about this specimen out of curiosity and not because he has come into contact with it!
To end, a reader asked us to weigh in on a creature that is found in almond trees in South America and that can cause some severe symptoms if you touch it. We believe that he is talking about a puss caterpillar, which is the larva of a flannel moth.
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