LOOK: Massive, Alien-Looking Caterpillars Are Emerging From Trees in the Southeastern US

by Tia Bailey
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

When you think about bugs, caterpillars are pretty inoffensive compared to others. However, a caterpillar that rivals the creepiness of spiders and other crawlers was spotted.

The hickory horned devil (yes, that’s its name), is one of the largest types of caterpillars in the United States. The creepy crawlies have begun emerging from trees in large masses.  Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division shared images of the bug after one was spotted.

“At first we thought this was a report of criminal activity, and that this intimidating figure had hustled $20 from a James Brown in Jefferson County. But before an Officer was dispatched, he let us know that he was just using the bill to show the impressive size of the HICKORY HORNED DEVIL,” the post reads. “This species is one of our largest caterpillars and, when the time is right, will metamorphose into a REGAL MOTH after a diet of hickory and persimmon leaves.This is the time of year to look for these stout gents in any deciduous woods, and if you meet one don’t worry – their prickly hardware is harmless and they don’t have any pockets for your cash either.”

The post currently has a handful of shocked reactions, and nearly 300 shares. The caterpillar is truly huge, and is an off-putting shade of blue/green with small black spikes and orangey-brown horns. It really is a creepy bug, but try not to be alarmed. Although creepy, the bug, found mostly in the southeastern part of the country, is harmless.

Fuzzy Caterpillar Fools With Appearance, is Very Venomous

From harmless but scary-looking caterpillars to harmless-looking and actually harmful caterpillars. In Florida, the Megalopyge opercularis caterpillar was spotted. Some found the fuzzy-looking bug cute, but if you see one, stay away.

The bugs are the larvae of the puss moth, otherwise known as the southern flannel moth. The caterpillars are known to be some of the most venomous in the country.

Lyle Buss, an entomologist from the University of Florida’s Insect Identification Lab spoke with Newsweek about the bugs.

“Most people will experience some intense burning pain at the stinging site,” Buss said. “But a small percentage of people may have a more serious allergic response.”

A Florida resident was a victim of the caterpillar’s powerful sting.

“I just don’t wish it on nobody,” they said. “It was the worst.”

Eric Day, the manager of Virginia Tech’s Insect ID lab, has also has been stung by the larvae. For Day, the burning went away after a day or two.

“But that blister and then subsequent kind of irritated area was visible for several weeks,” Day revealed.

Although painful, their stings are not deadly. Still, if you come across one, stay away — no matter how cuddly they look.