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Toxic Caterpillar With Powerful Venom Wreaks Havoc in England Village

May 03, 2017 10:32 AM EDT
Brown-Tailed Moth Caterpillar
Thousands of the brown-tailed caterpillars’ cocoons are found around Haybridge Basin, usually in shrubs and hedges.
(Photo : sjwillerton/YouTube)

It's not too common to hear about entire villages being this scared over insects. When there are thousands of venomous ones, the havoc is understandable. Locals in Heybridge Basin, Essex, in England are panicking over an outbreak of toxic caterpillars terrorizing the quiet little village.

According to a report from The Mirror, thousands of the brown-tailed moth caterpillars' cocoons are found around the Haybridge Basin, usually in shrubs and hedges.

"The infestation here is so bad, with every tree having a nest of about 500 caterpillars in it and we are trying so hard to get rid of them," said local resident Jill Doubtfire.

Locals are terrified -- and with good reason. Even just coming into contact with a small amount of the toxic caterpillar's two million tiny barbed hairs can cause severe rashes, headaches and breathing problems. The Express even reported that it can cause blindness. 

The barb hairs are disentangled from the brown-tailed moth caterpillars upon shedding, and these can be very difficult to remove from the human skin. Its venom, which causes the reaction, is also incredibly painful.

Watching out for tiny insects can be difficult, but the two orange dots on the back make the appearance of the toxic caterpillars distinctive. Although their barbs are there to keep the predators away, these hairs can be blown away on windy days and attack unsuspecting passers-by.

"I do advise anyone who has a nest in their home to call professionals to dispose of the bugs as it needs specialist care," Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of insect charity Buglife, said.

The only way to kill the brown-tailed moth caterpillars is to put them in rubbish bags to destroy them or burn them. Once you're bitten, the Health Protection Agency recommends washing your hands and eyes, then using calamine lotion on the rash.

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