ORMOND BEACH, Fla. — Volusia County flew purple flags Wednesday after beach goers complained of being stung by sea butterflies.

  • Prickly sea creatures washing ashore as current pulls them north
  • Hurricane Florence may have contributed to current problem
  • Contact can cause redness, bumps on skin 

Within the past few weeks, swimming at Ormond Beach has turned painful

"They're all over the beach," said Captain Tammy Malphurs with Volusia County Beach Safety.

Beach goer Mike Patterson compared the sensation of stepping on the tiny creatures to being on pins and needles

"Like fiberglass, the little things that stick in you," Patterson said.

"My son-in-law asked the lifeguard what they were when we came back in, and he said sea butterflies," he added. 

Malphurs said sea butterflies are making their way around and as the current pulls them north they're washing ashore in piles. She added that Hurricane Florence may have contributed to the current problems.

"These little creatures usually come from the warm water of the Caribbean," she explained. "Usually brought here by the currents of a tropical storm or hurricane, and we're seeing them wash up on shore right now."

Luckily, they're not dangerous — contact with them can cause some redness and bumps on your skin. However, beach patrol says your only option is to look out for them, and if they get stuck on you pull them out or wash them off.

"It feels like needles sticking in you," said beach visitor Debbie Williams. "I'm probably not getting in the water." 

Patterson told us he's being careful, too.

"Watching where I step," said Patterson.