HORN LAKE, MS (WMC) - What looked like a harmless bit of fur turned out to be something much more sinister.
"It felt like very bad pain," 7-year-old Wyatt McCaskill said.
He was playing in the front yard when a puss moth caterpillar stung him.
"We were throwing leaves at each other, and I picked up one and it stung me," Wyatt recalled.
The furry insect is about the size of a dime, and it's incredibly dangerous. Its hair contains a painful poison.
The pain moved from his finger all the way up his arm into his chest.
"He is in the most pain I've ever seen him in," said his mother, Kelli McCaskill. "Sick to his stomach."
Kelli thought Wyatt had been stung by a bee until they were on their way to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. There, they learned Wyatt was stung by the most venomous caterpillar in the United States.
"They are the most poisonous, so I heard that their sting can be more painful than a jellyfish or bee," Kelli explained.
Now, Kelli and Wyatt are warning other parents to be on the lookout for these fuzzy insects.
The caterpillars are most frequently found in trees in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, and you're most likely to find them between July and November.
Doctors said if you're stung by the caterpillar's fur, use a piece of tape to pull the spines out of your skin. Then, wash the area with soap and water and apply ice.