Last week while hugging trees near Traphill for a timber inventory I spotted this little fellow. He is one of the group of caterpillars that have the ability to put a welt on you. This caterpillar is a banded tussock moth caterpillar. It’s one of several caterpillars that have stinging hairs. The hairs can get deposited on your skin and cause stinging and itching. Others include: flannel moth caterpillar, Io moth larva, puss caterpillar, and saddle back caterpillar.
I normally notice these caterpillars in the late summer and fall. If you do come in contact with a stinging caterpillar you can place a piece of tape over the sting site and pull it off, to remove the stinging hairs. You may need to repeat this several times with a clean piece of tape each time. Wash the area thoroughly with warm, soapy water. You can also take an antihistamine or apply hydrocortisone cream to the area around the sting. Please note I never have one of these remedies available to me in the woods. It is amazing how fast you can get a cruising vest and shirt off when you get one of these stinging caterpillars down your shirt collar.