The body of a spotted tussock caterpillar (Lophocampa maculata) has distinctive bands, two of black and one of yellow -- invoking images of a honey bee. Bees of the California branch of the species wear an orange band instead of yellow; in eastern North America, the yellow area is marked by black spots. The species is not poisonous -- however, it is not a benign creature, either, in particular for those with sensitivities.
Spotted tussock caterpillars are not considered a major environmental pest, and people may be drawn to handling them because of their colorful appearance. However, the hairs on their bodies can be irritating and can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Before picking one up, don gloves. See a doctor if you notice any adverse reaction.
Catherine Lovering has written about business, tax, careers and pets since 2006. Lovering holds a B.A. (political science), LL.B. (law) and LL.L. (civil law).