The girls found a caterpillar in the yard. They put it in a plastic container, with some twigs, leaves and water. They asked me if they could bring it to school and I said yes. When I picked them up after school, they walked toward me with the container and a funny expression on their faces. “Is it dead?” I asked. “No – it’s poisonous!”

Apparently when H walked into class with it, all her classmates ran in the opposite direction. They claim the black fuzzy caterpillar can give you a rash and fever. I pulled over to the side of the road and we dumped it.

When I got home, I did some research, this is the best answer I could find:

“Most of the fuzzy caterpillars belong to the Tiger Moth Family (Arctiidae). Some species have the ability to cause a rash or at least a burning sensation on contact with sensitive skin. This helps to protect these insects from various predators. They will not hurt you if handled, you almost have to get the hairs into your nostrils or rub them into your neck to get a reaction.” – David Herlocker, Wildlife Expert

Lesson learned.