As summer draws to a close, I got this question from a reader in Texas:
possible to get sick from a caterpillar sting?
don't sting, not like wasps and bees or even ants. They transfer venom
passively when the predator--or human--comes into contact with it.
caterpillar is the most poisonous caterpillar in
the USA. It has dense “fur,” composed of hairs; hidden among these are
hair-like hollow spines that deliver poison produced by glands.
the appearance in the photos, it is only 1.3-1.5 inches long.
caterpillars live primarily in the southern states, especially Texas. They
appear twice a year, once in the late spring/early summer and again in late
summer/early fall. Favored foods include broadleaf trees and shrubs.
typically come in contact with the caterpillar by accident.
of contact include intense pain, swelling, itching, and red blotches.
not uncommon for the caterpillar to have multiple contact points, leading to
several affected areas. More serious reactions include nausea, vomiting,
cramps, and incapacitation. Death is unusual, but can happen with higher venom
best way to remove the spines from the skin is with cellophane/clear tape.
Because of the risk of a serious reaction it’s a good idea to seek medical
for small children: Don't touch!
Kelly has worked in the medical field
for over twenty years, mainly at large medical centers. With experience in a
variety of settings, chances are Kelly may have seen it.
Sometimes truth seems stranger than fiction in medicine, but accurate medicine
in fiction is fabulous.
**Thanks to Auburn University for the photos.