A 5-year-old girl from Texas has been hospitalized after she was stung by a highly poisonous caterpillar.
According to NBC DFW, the girl was stung by the furry puss caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis), which is considered the most venomous caterpillar in the United States.
Lauren Chambers said that her daughter, Adrie, was playing outside at her daycare when she was stung by the fuzzy-looking creature, which is also commonly known as the asp caterpillar and southern flannel moth.
“They said that she had been stung by the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States,” Chambers said.
The bug is believed to have fallen from a tree overhead while the girl was playing outside. Fortunately, staff at the daycare were able to remove the spines from the sting, which saved Adrie the worst symptoms.
Although the insect appears soft, its outer comb-over has small but extremely toxic spines that stick to the skin.
Chambers said that her daughter would have suffered worse had it not been for the staff’s quick thinking.
Pain from the sting is comparable to that of a broken bone. Symptoms may include upset stomach, swelling, numbness, and in some instances, difficulty breathing.
The sting could have caused the child’s body to go numb and to start to shut down. Luckily, the sting only led to pain, swelling, and an upset stomach.
In a 2014 interview with National Geographic, University of Florida entomologist Don Hall described how it feels to be stung by the asp caterpillar. He that it feels like a bee sting, but worse.
“The pain immediately and rapidly gets worse after being stung, and can even make your bones hurt,” Hall said.
“How bad the sting hurts depends on where you get stung and how many spines are embedded in your skin. People who have been stung on the hand say the pain can radiate up to their shoulder and last for up to 12 hours.”
Although there is no defined medical procedures to follow if one gets stung by the asp, Hall recommended covering the area with cellophane tape and ripping the tape off to remove the spines that are still in the wound.
Michael Merchant, an entomologist at Texas A&M, said that asp caterpillars are common in a lot of trees and plants such as oaks, rose bushes and yaupons that can be found in North Texas.
Thankfully, the bugs should start to disappear in the coming weeks as they prepare their cocoons for the winter.