Brace Yourselves for The Lime Green Fuzzballs of Florida

It’s been nearly 5 years since my family and I moved to South Florida from Denver.

We had moved several times previously; all because of corporate relocation while I was an employee in my “9 to 5” days. But after I was “excessed” in 2005 and absorbed that punch to the gut…in due time, I became self-employed.

So, in 2012 we moved to Florida on our own dime.

We are originally from Long Island, but when the relocation fairy started to descend on my numb corporate brain, we soon found ourselves like nomads of some sort. South Carolina, Colorado, Texas, and back to Colorado.

Each place had dirt. Big revelation, right?

From the perspective of my yard gardening history, I found reason to get acclimated to each unique soil type. And each place had its challenges in terms of pests, drainage, ravaging weather, etc.

But as many Americans would probably agree about regardless of the subject, Florida is its own unique genre. True enough in the realm of landscaping and gardening as well.

But until I got my hands really dirty down here, I had no inkling beforehand of what I was getting myself into.

While driving cross country over 3 days from Denver, I began daydreaming about what I would encounter when I started to make my presence in the yard. The first thing that came to mind was: bugs.

Sure, certain bugs in my past homes would make my skin crawl. But, this was going to be Florida. Bugs all year long! Crazy attacking hornets and yellow jackets! Fire ants in the lawn! Mosquitoes as big and as hungry as vultures! All day long!

Wow, was I pleasantly surprised!

Yes, there are bugs. But there are also small, kind of cute gecko lizards during daylight, and somewhat less cute frogs at night, both of which have voracious appetites for insects. When my daughter sees one of these fine creatures ambling by, invariably she will address them by saying: “keep up the good work!”

But I did learn a hard and extremely painful lesson about one particular insect: the IO Moth Caterpillar.

One spring I found several of them nibbling on the leaves of a dwarf Robellini palm tree on my property.


Being from the north, where there weren’t any toxic caterpillars that I ever encountered in the garden, I just instinctively decided to “flick” them off with my gloveless index finger. I probably flung about 7 of these otherwise cute, lime green fuzzballs off of that palm.

About 2 minutes later, my finger was throbbing with intense pain right below the fingernail.

Turns out these nasties leave these tiny, nearly microscopic spines in your skin that are poisonous and will hurt for days. The only remedy is to try to deftly remove them using scotch tape. I did that, but the hurt lingered.

Lesson painfully learned. I lived to tell the story to my future grandchildren.

Perhaps you can say that it’s just Florida, being Florida.


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