Sea butterflies poke beachgoers in Volusia County

Non-toxic creatures cling to swimsuits

Sea butterflies on a Volusia County beach on Aug. 1, 2017.
Sea butterflies on a Volusia County beach on Aug. 1, 2017.

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Despite what the name implies, sea butterflies aren’t as nice as they sound.

The mini marine organisms are a pteropod called cresis acicula and because of their needle-like shape, the tiny sea snails have been known to poke unsuspecting beachgoers and cling to their bathing suits.

That was the case Tuesday in Volusia County, which prompted a purple flag to be flown.


“They are non-venomous and are more of an annoyance than anything, they can be rinsed off with water,” Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue Captain Tamra Malphurs said in a news release.

Sea butterflies use their tongues to propel their cylindrical silica bodies, creating a movement that resembles a flutter.

Though they float like a butterfly, they also sting like a bee. Their sharp bodies can stick into the skin like a splinter and multiple pricks can lead to small, reddish bumps.

Officials say it's not an allergic reaction because sea butterflies are non-toxic.

Sea butterflies have been known to confuse beachgoers because they look like fiberglass so if you see them, steer clear.

For more information on things to watch out for at Florida beaches, click here.

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