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Common caterpillar mislabeled as dangerous

ALPENA, Mich. — WBKB recently received a message from an Alpena resident who found a strange caterpillar in their yard. It’s called an American Dagger Caterpillar. A recent report showed one of these bugs in Clare county. Several media outlets have labeled it as poisonous.

Howard Russell, an insect diagnostician from Michigan State University says there is no real evidence that these animals have venomous hairs and the hysteria that surrounds it and other hairy caterpillars is unfounded. Any irritation from touching them is most likely an allergic reaction from the proteins of the hairs getting lodged in the skin.”Some people may experience mild skin irritation if they handle the caterpillar roughly,” he said. “You can have the same kind of response or reaction to a Woolly Bear Caterpillar and people don’t seem to mind them at all.”

Russell added the American Dagger Caterpillar is a common bug in Michigan, and if you find one, don’t be alarmed.