By Nelson Groom
A mum has been left horrified after a plague of hundreds of poisonous caterpillars set up camp on their doorstep.
Leah Anderson was shocked after spotting the uninvited guests, which travel in bizarre snake-like processions, had invaded the welcome mat outside her home.
Her skin-crawling photographs show the uninvited guests in a swarming nest outside her door and on the move in single file processions in the picturesque Australian town of Noosa Heads, Queensland.
The furry bugs, known as processionary caterpillars, can cause breathing difficulties, swelling in the throat and skin irritations and burning sensations if their hairs are inhaled.
Stay-at-home mum Leah, 39, said: “At first glance I thought it was a dead cat on the doorstep. After that I swore and ran away.
“I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to laugh or cry.”
Her husband, tradesman Pete Anderson, 43, shovelled a 15 litre paint tin full of the pests away from their front door before falling prey to their poisonous defences.
Pete said: “I didn’t touch them but I’m still itching lots. I only found out afterwards they can release their hairs that enter the skin.
“I’ve definitely never seen them before in such vast quantities.”
Experts warn against handling the pests wearing anything less than a full-face mask and goggles.
University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences Professor Myron Zalucki said: “If you inhale their bristles you will have an adverse reaction.
“It varies amongst different people, but some sort of rash is the norm. These reactions will occur wherever the hairs land and embed, but luckily are rarely fatal in humans
“The caterpillars are best not handled without covering up completely – including wearing a face mask and goggles.”