Iowans, think twice before you touch any little, fuzzy caterpillars this fall.

The American Dagger Caterpillar is not the bug you want to mess with. They are about two inches long and are covered in bright yellow-green bristles with black bristles near the head and rear. Those bristles can break off, embed themselves into the skin, and release toxins. According to, "many curious children have unwittingly picked up these big, fuzzy, bright creatures and consequently experienced a burning, itching sensation on their skin which can develop into a rash."

These little buggers are active this time of year and are found wooded areas like parks, backyards, and forests that house trees that shed their leaves annually like parks, backyards, forests and woodlands. The likelihood that you'll see them is high considering their food source is usually found close to backyards and schoolyards. 

Find out more about the creatures and check out some photos here. Oh, and before you decide to pick up one of those fuzzy critters--think twice.


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