When you think of caterpillars, do you usually think of small fuzzy creatures that eventually turn into butterflies?

Most of us do, and we also tend to assume that caterpillars are virtually harmless.

But, that illusion has been officially been shattered - a poisonous species of caterpillar is starting to pop up in busy areas of the city. 

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The caterpillar in question is called the Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar. Dozens of them have recently been discovered on the Toronto Islands, and are likely living in other parks around the city as well.

They’re about the size of any normal caterpillar you would see at this time of year. Their main distinction is their white hairs and black bristles.

A single bite from these caterpillars isn't poisonous. But, if you touch the caterpillar's hair, you'll likely develop a rash where they come in contact with your skin. 

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You can actually get some serious medical complications if you spread the rash from your hands to your eyes by touching the area around them.

People who have allergies may suffer a full-on severe reaction if they touch the caterpillars.

If you’re hoping to avoid the area where they live, you'll be relieved to know that they mostly spend their time in trees eating the leaves. 

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There isn’t a specific kind of tree that the caterpillars eat from in particular, but they’ve been known to eat from Ash, Hickory and Elm trees.

Now, not all Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillars have venomous hairs, but it’s best to stay away from them if you do see one just to be safe.  

The caterpillars can usually be seen into October, so keep an eye out for them until then.  

Source: 680 News

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