Do you live in Florida?

Have you seen this guy?

Authorities warn: do not engage this individual should you encounter him.

Although the furry fish-like land sliding creature may educe from you coos of “Awww. I wanna pet”, science strongly suggest you refrain from acting on those feelings. Despite the seemingly inviting dog-like exterior on this particular caterpillar, one stroke of its coat would land you in the kind of on-contact pain that reportedly feels worse than if a jellyfish, scorpion, and bee all pooled their poison together in a cauldron, cast a kidney stone spell on it, loaded it into a dart, and shot it in your retina. And the fun wouldn’t end there. The agonal pain would then travel up your limb, before inducing a misery rollercoaster of nausea, vomiting, the shits, numbness, breathlessness, convulsions…- and a bunch of other things that’d look a lot less boring on a list if you were trying to write them on an E.R. intake form while going through each simultaneously.

Why would Darwin-God make such a thing?

Where’s it coming from?

What is it?

Meet… the Megalopyge opercularis.

Although it sounds like Optimus Prime’s evil aunt nobody talks to anymore since she went crazy, the only transforming it does it into a moth. That and maybe transforming you into a bag of overactive pain-receptors short circuiting your body. Also called the “puss caterpillar”, it’s only recently been popping up in Florida and the warning is to be wary when working outdoors because it’s known to “fall out of trees”. I’m thinking how bad this would suck for some dude who’s not up on his science and doesn’t realize that adorable poison nature pellets exist. Then one’a these things comes sailing from the heavens and he’s forced to assume that it’s Saint Jesus finally smiting him with streaks of lightning strychnine for his poor lifestyle choices in general.

Cue Keanu moment:

“Dude… what if Newton had gotten hit with a poison bug? Instead of an apple?”

Before we go any further, I feel like it’s worthwhile to mention what you’re probably wondering: Why’s it called “puss” caterpillar? At first, for a moment, my everything-gross-goes-in-one-associative-bucket brain told me that was “pus” and not “puss” – which cascaded a nightmare fantasy of hypotheticals in my brain: “Maybe it also shoots pus? Maybe the sting leaves you with exploding boils? Maybe the poison goes septic until milky white effluvia rains Tarantino-blood-scene style from every orifice you own?” No. Nunna that.

It was named because it looks like… a Persian cat. Hence “puss”… not “pus”.

Heh. Boring.

Until it undergoes its Opti-puss Prime transformation into this:

First, you’re not fooling anyone with those furry ass legs. That’s clearly the result of mating a tarantula and yellow-jacket and it belongs in a glass elevator under the Cabin in the Woods along with the rest of Satan’s henchmen.

Second, I’m worried about the fact that it doesn’t even spin a cocoon. Like a snake, it just sheds it’s shaggy overcoat, pupates in it, then peaces out. I mean, if they shed the venom jacket, and leave it hanging around, can people still get stung by those? Or do they have to be alive to secrete their evil outward and inject their spines into you?

Third, everything could be solved if Trump would just come collect his hairpieces.

Regardless, if you suddenly feel like you’ve had and undeserved vat of acid thrown in your face and no one’s standing around with an empty bucket, then go see a doctor. Ya know. Just like you’d do if you had an undeserved vat of acid thrown on your face. #themoreyouknow

You might be wondering, “Why do you care about Floridians, Ashley?”

I don’t. I care about like two point five Floridians that I can think of off the top of my cranium (which I hope never gets rained on by one’a these hell fiend cactus caterpillars ‘cause that’d be the worst place to get hit. Except for the lady box. Or the eyeballs. Those would be worse). But my Mothman Prophecy is this: if these things are randomly popping up there (where it’s humid and somewhat similar to where I live in VA) and they have wings (that can bring them here), and if it gets overpopulated yonder in the Retirement State, they could retire to the Land o’ Lovers by next season after migrating upward ever so slowly.

But, ya know. This is nothing to worry about (yet).

Just a document for your totally rational fear files.

That definitely won’t give you nightmares.

Sweet dreams!