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Belchertown Supt. of Schools Issues Warning Over Caterpillars
caterpillar (courtesy U.S. National Park Servive)

(Courtesy U.S. National Park Service)

BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WGGB) — A particular kind of caterpillar is causing problems in Belchertown.

The white, furry creature may look friendly and harmless, but it’s not.

It’s called the Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar, identified by its white color and black chain like marking on its back.

It’s been turning up in the area, with curious children picking them up.

Belchertown is one community where the caterpillars are causing problems.

“They carry a venom in them, so if you pick them up, they emit the venom and it could be anything from just a little redness on the skin, to something akin to poison ivy, to something that could potentially be a much more allergic reaction,” says Belchertown School Supt. Judith Houle.

Several school children in Belchertown have ended up at the doctor’s office after picking up the caterpillars.

“Just minor rashes. A couple of parents took their children to see the doctor just to see what was going on, but nothing severe,” Houle adds.

As a result of the incidents, the Belchertown school system has sent a letter to parents with information about the caterpillar and urging them to tell their children not to touch the furry, white  creatures.

And while the word is out and warnings are given, the alert continues.

Supt. Houle says the caterpillars will be active for another two to three weeks.

If you’ve touched this caterpillar, you’re advised to wash the affected area with soap and water.

Also, apply ice packs if swelling or itching occurs, and if you’re experiencing an allergic reaction, seek medical advice immediately.