Those of us who grew up in the south have heard tales of poisonous caterpillars. Just what they are supposed to do, poison wise, was rarely mentioned. There’s truth to the rumors, though, at least with some of the fuzzy creatures. Their stings can be incredibly painful, and some people, like the boy in the image above, end up in the hospital.
Andrea Pergola of Land O’ Lakes, Florida, took her 15-year-old son Logan to the emergency room after his brush with a Southern flannel moth. The pair had been working in the yard, picking up branches, when Logan touched the caterpillar.
“I’m a native Floridian, and we camp and we know all the little bugs, and I was a Girl Scout and never seen or heard of one,” Logan’s mom said.
“He instantly felt a sharp, stinging pain and his arm went numb,” Pergola wrote. “Within 5 minutes he was dizzy, had lost color, was complaining of the worst pain he had ever felt & his eyes weren’t super focused.”
The sting often has a distinctive pattern. Pergola caught the caterpillar and took it to the ER in a plastic bag, but the cause of her son’s distress was clear.
“It sort of felt like someone was drilling into my bone — and wouldn’t stop,” the boy told reporters.
“Pergola said she tried applying garlic to the wound to remove the venom before rushing her son to the emergency room,” NY Daily News writes.
In the hospital, Logan was put on an IV and medication to treat the spreading rash. After a few hours, he showed signs of improvement.
“Each dot on his arm represents a place where he was stung — well over 20 injection sites,” Pergola wrote. “He is a healthy, strong, young man & it knocked him out. I can’t even imagine a small child or elderly person.”
The Southern flannel moth got its name from its soft fur. It is also known as the ‘puss caterpillar’ becasue of the reactions many have to the sting. It is one of the most venomous caterpillars in the United States.