I remember growing up playing with caterpillars in the springtime. They appeared as friendly creatures, and in my head I thought they made the perfect outdoor pet.
Sometimes my friends and I would catch a handful of them and watch them transform into butterflies.
But one summer, things took a turn for the worst when I came across a different type of caterpillar. I touched its furry hairs, and a few hours later my skin erupted in rashes. I had to spend a day in the hospital because of it.
It turns out, these cute bugs aren't actually as friendly as you think, and recently one four-year-old boy found out the hard way.
"I didn't know caterpillars could do this"
Lauryn Mae Jordan was horrified when she saw her son, Beau, become violently ill after "accidentally touching a caterpillar" on their doorstep.
He fell ill during the night while he was sleeping, and was constantly sick the following day.
The mom-of-two from the UK said that her boy was extremely drowsy and his face appeared swollen and puffy.
Jordan rushed Beau to the hospital, believing that her son came in contact with a toxic caterpillar known as Oak Processionary Moth.
"His eyes were really puffy," she said. "They just waited for him to go to the toilet as he hadn't been drinking any fluids. It was during the night that I was worried."
"I just thought maybe he had got a bug, it wasn't until my daughter said 'maybe it's from the caterpillar that bit him yesterday' that I thought about it," the concerned mother added.
According to Plymouth Herald, Beau spent a few hours in the hospital, but he has no memory of being sick.
Although the young boy didn't need treatment, his mother wants to warn parents about the dangers of children picking up random bugs.
"I didn't know caterpillars could do this," Jordan said. "Kids pick up bugs, I just want parents to be aware that this can happen."
Jordan was able to take a photo of the caterpillar, but because of the poor quality of the image, a caterpillar expert said it was difficult to identify.
That being said, Steve Ogden, from Wildlife Insight, said the caterpillar might have been a four-spotted footman, but recommends staying away from hairy caterpillars in general.
"Some people seem to have more sensitive skin than others, particularly children, so to be on the safe side it's always best to avoid direct skin contact with any hairy caterpillar," he said.
Other caterpillars you should stay away from
America is covered with these creepy-crawlies. Here are six caterpillars you should make an effort to stay away from.
1. Io Moth Caterpillar - From Southern Canada to the Southern US
You see those green hairs on their body? They look harmless, but in fact these hairs contain tiny black spines that can lodge into your skin.
2. Saddleback Caterpillar - Eastern US
The hairs on this caterpillar can cause painful rashes and nausea.
3. Bag Shelter Caterpillar - Southern US
The hairs on this caterpillar are venomous enough to stop your blood from clotting, which can lead to a life-threatening hemorrhage.
4. Hickory Tussock Caterpillar - Eastern North America
Some people are more allergic to this kind caterpillar, so it's in your best interest to just stay away from them.
5. Puss Caterpillar - Eastern and Central US
The puss caterpillar is known to cause chest pain and difficulty breathing just by brushing against its skin.
6. Brown Tailed Moth Caterpillar - Eastern US
I see a lot of these caterpillars in my yard, and I always let people know to avoid touching them.
The brown tailed moth can cause rashes and painful headaches.