It's small, fuzzy, and maybe even cute, but a sting from a puss caterpillar can send you to the ER. Encounters with these insects are on the rise in parts of the U.S.
At first glance, it may look harmless: A fat furry caterpillar that likes to make its homes in several types of trees. But a warning - all that fur is covered in venom.
ER physician Dr. Glenn Hardesty says, "It's the pain . It is instant and immediate and it's very intense." He describes the pain from a puss caterpillar, from first hand experience, as worse than that from a sting from a bee, jellyfish, even a scorpion. It can also cause vomiting, convulsions, and a drop in blood pressure. "During certain times of the year, they become more prevalent and we are in a time of year they become more prevalent," says Dr, Hardesty. Meaning your chances of an encounter are higher now.
Reports of people ending up at the ER from caterpillar stings are on the rise. Doctors say to look around for them when you're working outdoors, and they are known to fall out of trees. Also, just as important, talk to your children before they are tempted to pick one up.
If you are stung, you can use tape to pull the hairs off your skin, and then apply benadryl. You may have to see a doctor for anything more severe.
This caterpillar is found from New Jersey to Florida, and as far west as Texas, where it is most prevalent.
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