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INSECTS | Toxic critters

Venomous caterpillar puts teen in hospital, watch for these


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, June 20, 2018, 5:52 PM - Andrea Pergola had no idea a creepy, crawly caterpillar could inflict such damage until she saw the wound it left on her son's wrist.

"I mean, I've seen furry caterpillars but never seen this one. Apparently they are around, and they're dangerous," the Tampa, Florida resident told CNN.

Andrea and her son Logan had been doing volunteer work in a rural area, when he ran up to his mother with a rash on his wrist.

They tried to rinse off the wound, but the caterpillar's toxins had already made their way into Logan's body, causing a rash that started travelling up his arm and towards his chest.

Logan had had a run in with a "puss" caterpillar, which is common in the southeastern U.S.

1. WHAT ARE PUSS CATERPILLARS?

Measuring 34 to 36 mm in length, puss caterpillars are extremely venomous creatures that vary in colour from grayish-white, to orangey-brown, to charcoal. 

When they reach adult stage, they turn into yellow or orange moths with black, furry feet and are no longer venomous.


Megalopyge opercularis in adult form.


2. THEIR FUR CAUSES INSTANT PAIN

The fur of the puss caterpillar is covered with venom and a sting causes "instant" and "intense" pain, worse than that of a jellyfish or scorpion.


3. WHERE CAN PUSS CATERPILLARS BE FOUND?

The caterpillars are common in parts of the U.S. this time of year -- particularly in New Jersey, Florida and as far west as Texas. The bugs tend to commune around oak, elm and citrus trees, as well as in garden plants like roses and ivy.

4. HOW DO I TREAT STINGS?

Mild stings can be treated by using scotch tape to remove the venomous hairs from the skin, followed by applying benadryl to the affected area.

Make sure to clean the area with soap and water. Ice can be used to reduce the stinging sensation.

More serious stings may require medical attention.

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia


Photo courtesy

VIDEO: WATCH A CATERPILLAR TURN INTO A BUTTERFLY



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