AUSTIN - Officials with the Austin Zoo are letting people know about a venomous insect that you may see in your backyard. It is known as the "asp caterpillar" and it's a native of Texas.
Its official name is the Southern Flannel Moth and it has a painful sting.
It's a little over an inch long. They are teardrop-shaped and covered with long, silky hairs and can range in color from light brown to yellow to gray.
We spoke with a woman in Manor who has had the caterpillar drop on her hand while in the Lake Travis area and an Austin Zoo manager.
“I've had one fall on me,” said Austin Zoo general curator John Gramieri. “As I was walking through the brush and, I’ve got to tell you, it was a little one so about three-eighths of an inch long. They can normally grow to about an inch long, inch-and-a-half maybe. And even that tiny little one on my head -- I thought somebody had lit a cigarette out on my head."
The Austin Zoo said they haven't seen an unusual rise in population this year but we are in peak season.
The "asp caterpillar" is active from July through November.
If you touch one, the venom can cause symptoms including burning pain, swelling, nausea and itching.
The caterpillar also likes to stay on trees -- including oak, oleander and plum.
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