Disney Guests Be Warned: Skin Irritation Reported From Unlikely Source

We all want our Disney vacation to be perfect. Guests dream of a Walt Disney World trip full of Cast Member magic, low attraction wait times, Disney character surprises, and delicious Mickey-shaped food.

Disney Parks like Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as water parks like Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, create magic for Guests every day, but it doesn’t mean they’re not prone to incidents and accidents from time to time.

And now, a warning has come out from Florida officials cautioning travelers to the Sunshine State not to touch an unlikely enemy.


Credit: Disney

Most Guests at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista are aware of the usual perils facing them on their vacation. From the crazy humidity and hungry mosquitos to the Florida alligators and agonizing sunburn, Disney World has a lot

But now, according to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney Guests have another – smaller – adversary to avoid. Florida officials have sent out an interesting message NOT to touch “fuzzy caterpillars”.

Yes, you read that right. On your next trip to the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks, be aware of a group of Florida caterpillars that will leave your skin highly irritated.


Credit: Lyle Buss, University of Florida

From mid-April to early May, Florida Health Officials are warning residents and visitors of Florida to avoid touching these fuzzy caterpillars. The white-marked tussock moth caterpillar can cause skin irritation if touched, with barbs that can be harmful.

Not surprisingly, Florida daycares and schools have been reporting cases of skin irritation in children. What young child wouldn’t want to try to catch and pick up those cute, fuzzy caterpillars?

So, here’s your Disney Tips public service announcement to encourage young Guests on your next Florida trip to not touch any fuzzy tussock moth caterpillars. We wouldn’t want any Walt Disney World Guests suffering from a painful rash the whole time!


Credit: David Atrubin, Florida Department of Health

Donald W. Hall and Lyle Buss with the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida explained why touching these fuzzy caterpillars and their cocoons can cause irritation.

Florida apparently has three tussock moth species that drop from trees and search for a place to make their cocoons mid-Spring and into Summer. The hairs of the white-marked caterpillars have venom glands. Not only does the venom gland cause skin irritation, but tussock moth caterpillars have stinging hairs with barbs that can be harmful and difficult to remove from the skin.

If someone in your party does get a rash or stung by these caterpillars, Florida Officials say to put tape over the affected area of the skin. This way, it will be easy to remove the spines as you peel off the tape. Follow up the tape and spine removal by washing the area well with soap and water. An ice pack to ease the itchiness along with baking soda also helps with the sting. If stung, skin irritation can last for a day or longer.

So, don’t say we didn’t warn you the next time you see a cute, fuzzy caterpillar on your Walt Disney World vacation!

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who has worked at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Adventures by Disney! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her husband, an Air Force pilot. Find her children's book at