Puss Caterpillar Encounters
Reported to www.bugsinthenews.com

The following reports were e-mailed to me on the dates indicated. I wish to thank all who have taken the time to provide accounts of their experiences. Names are, in most cases, reduced to initials to protect the privacy of the contributors, but the locations of the sightings are shown. Note that many reports do not indicate where the encounter took place. I urge all who send us reports to mention at least the state/province and city where the encounter took place in your report.

All reports sent in are answered, and questions posed in the reports are addressed in the reply. The text of specific replies may not be included in the text below, but editorial comments are added from time to time in response to particular questions. Please note that more recent reports have not always been included, especially if they do not add materially to the material already posted.

* BASIC INFORMATION * FIRST AID * EXTERMINATION *

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Click here for archived puss caterpillar reports from 2002-2003

The following are puss caterpillar reports received during 2004:

August 18, 2004

Mr. Cates,
 
I live in northern Mississippi, right outside of Memphis Tennessee.  Today, my son and I were sitting outside and noticed this strange creature crawling on our birdbath.  Being the homeschool mom that I am, I quickly sent my son to get the bug jar and the field guides.  After securing him in the jar, we looked in every field guide we had, to no avail.  We live in a farming community, so I began to ask the farmers if they had ever seen anything like this.  Everyone of them had the same answer, they had never seen anything like it in all their lives.  Most were in there 70s and 80's so that is a long life.  Now keep in mind the whole time I am showing this thing, I am handling it.  Turning it over to show them the feet and face, touching the fur to show how soft it was.  In and out of the jar it went.  It spent the night in the bug jar (my 8 year old son wanted to sleep with it!)  and the next morning I was going to a nature center in Memphis to see if they knew what it was.  I was on the phone with a friend from Texas, and described my new pet.  She said "That sounds like an asp, don't touch it it has a nasty sting."  I told her that it couldn't be that, I had been handling it to much.  After getting off the phone with her, I decided to look it up on the internet, and lo and behold she was right!  This sweet furry-looking bug was capable of bringing an adult to their knees in pain!!!  Luckily I didn't let my 8year old or my 3 year old daughter touch it....and they begged to!  My question is this, why did it not sting me?  I'm not complaining mind you, just curious.  Lesson learned.....looks are deceiving.  Oh yeah, and don't play with strange bugs!
Thanks,
K. H. Mt. Pleasant Mississippi

Editor's Note: If you look through the encounter reports you will find several reporting handling puss caterpillars without being stung. I suppose their experiences are roughly analogous to those cases where rattlesnakes have been handled without biting. Whether the caterpillar you handled just didn't activate its stingers or was equipped with defective or non-toxic stingers, we can only guess. In any case, you are fortunate. It is also interesting that none of the old-timers in your area had seen this critter before.

August 17, 2004

Hi, Mr. Cates,
 
I was stung by a puss caterpillar on sunday while doing yard cleanup after hurricane Charley.  I live in Orlando, Florida.  I accidentally put my hand on him and he stung me on my palm.  The pain was immediate and more intense than any bee sting I have ever had.  My hand swelled pretty badly and was very red.  I tried ice and bactine.  Nothing worked.  I did the old standby in times of crisis, I called my mom.  She told me of an old remedy for pulling out poisons.  She had me take a potato and scrape it with a knife, then load that heavily with salt to make a poltice.  I wrapped that around the sting.  I could feel an immediate drawing sensation that was almost painful in itself, but within an hour, it was feeling incredibly better.  By the end of the evening, the swelling and redness was gone.  All I have to show for it today, Tuesday, is a brownish mark in the exact shape of the little bugger. ! I really had no idea what he was until I found him on your website.  Thanks a lot.  P.S.  the old cures are still the best.
 
L. S., Orlando, Florida

Editor's Note: True, many of the old cures work well. Apparently the potato & salt poultice worked for you, and that's good. Remedies using potatoes and potato juice have been around for some time, according to the information in the following link:

http://www.bagelhole.org/article.php/Health/360/

August 17, 2004

Mr. Cates:
 
I would like to report my incident of being stung by an asp (puss caterpillar) which occurred Sunday August 15th at 2pm in the Montrose area (Houston, Texas).
 
I got out of the swimming pool and sat on a plastic chair. I hit the left side of my knee on the chair and immediately felt a sharp pain (similar to a jelly fish sting). I jumped up and saw a grayish tuft of fur on the backside of the chair. I was clueless as to what this creature was because the pain it had inflicted on me was excruciating and extremely hot. The area that was stung became raised and red.
 
I ran to my apartment and applied tea tree oil with a cotton ball. I then washed the area with castile soap and made a paste from activated charcoal capsules and applied it on the area impacted. I also took 2 charcoal capsules orally and started to drink lots of water to flush out the toxins. Within a 30 minute period - the burning pain shot up my leg to my groin area and I felt pain in my abdomen and lower back. Of course, I started to panic because I did not know what had stung me and I was trying to find a picture of an asp in a book. I called members of my family - all of who suggested I get Benadryl.
 
My husband and I drove with the dead specimen (which was in a jar) to the nearest Walgreen's. I asked the pharmacist to identify the critter and unfortunately no one behind the counter had seen it before.
 
The pharmacist suggested that I monitor myself for the next 12 hours and to get to the ER if I had difficulty breathing, heart palpitations or any other unusual symptoms. Per the pharmacist's instructions I orally took 2 Benadryl tablets and applied Benadryl itch stopping cream to the area stung.
 
After the Benadryl started to kick in - the pain in my back and leg started to subside. There was only a burning sensation in the localized area of the sting which lasted until 11 pm. I applied some more Benadryl cream and took orally 2 capsules of activated charcoal capsules before bed.
 
The next day there was no pain in the leg - only the standard red teeth marks in the area stung.
 
Unfortunately I found your website a day too late but have found it to be very informative and helpful to read these painful encounters. Keep up the great work!!
 
Kind regards-
L. T., Houston, Texas

Follow-up on August 17, 9:50 A.M.:

Hi Jerry:
 
I am doing fine now. Fortunately I only had to deal with a couple of hours of pain on Sunday.
 
I would like to emphasize that if a person is stung - they should not panic (which is easier said than done) because it helps you to focus and try various remedies and to act quickly in taking some form of antihistamine (even if you have no prior experience of allergic reactions to insect stings).
 
Until I read the various encounters - I had no idea that the pain I was feeling in my groin area and abdomen was as a result of the poison.
 
The pharmacist I consulted thought the pain was a result of sudden movement on my part and that I pulled a muscle.
 
There does not seem to be a lot of information on the internet as to people's reactions and I think your website provides a useful resource (the encounters) which again I would like to commend.
 
L. T., Houston, TX

August 16, 2004

We live in Loxahatchee (Western Palm Beach County), FL. My husband was mowing the lawn today and one of critters fell on his hand from a tree. It stung his hand and when he knocked it off it got his leg too. He was in extreme pain from it. We called poison control and scooped up the caterpillar in a jar to keep just in case. (We will be getting rid of it now that Iíve read all of this.) Neither of us had ever seen one of these things. They look like little gremlins. Poison control told him to use the tape and then apply shaving cream to the area to help relieve the pain. They then told him to use a credit card over the areas to remove the shaving cream and any other quills that may have been left over. Heís been taking Benadryl to help with the swelling and Advil for the pain. He is complaining of pain up into his shoulder and his hip. The venom seems to attack the joints. Thank you for your informative site. I will take a picture of the affected areas as well as the caterpillar before we release it.

T. A., West Palm Beach, FL

August 16, 2004

When I moved to Trinidad (Caribbean island seven miles off the coast of Venezuela), people warned me about the fer de lance and coral snakes, scorpions and centipedes. Nobody told me about poisonous caterpillars. I've identified what stung me from this website, though sites describing the North American version of the Puss Caterpillar say it ranges from 3/4 inch long to 1 1/4 inches long and the one I found (or that found me) is at least 3 inches long and looks like a moussed and blow-dried hamster. When you touch it with a stick, the fur undulates.

Yesterday morning, Sunday, I went out on the balcony  and saw something orange and furry on a twig in the plum tree. I thought it might be some kind of insect nest, so I went outside to get a better look. I reached up for the end of the limb it was on and slowly pulled the branch down to get a better look. I didn't have a chance to touch it before it fell off and barely brushed my fingers on the way down. Intense stinging. I went inside and washed my hand and the pain got worse and worse. I'm talking unbearable. Then it radiated up my arm to the glands in my arm pit. I sat down, worrying a little whether I was going to stop breathing or my heart would stop. I tried antihistamine cream, aspirin, ice, etc. and the pain got worse - it wasn't a sting anymore - just intense, intense pain. I was invited to a wedding that afternoon that I wanted to go to (more about that later), so I went to the wedding, but I am telling you - the PAIN DID NOT WEAKEN OR DISSIPATE EVEN A LITTLE UNTIL FOUR HOURS LATER. And then it would go away and recur until that night.

The Trinidadians I told about this said, "Oh, it's a Chinney - you should never touch those." But when I showed it to people, including people in their 60s who grew up near where I live (Maraval, in the mountains just outside Port of Spain, Trinidad )no one had ever seen anything like it.

If you have more information about this larger, Caribbean Megalopyge opercularis, please let me know.

Thanks, and thanks for your interesting website.

J. G., Trinidad

Editor's Note: I have asked J. G. to take some digital photos of this caterpillar. Hopefully she will be able to do that so I can post them on this website.

August 13, 2004

Daytona Beach, Fla.    My Mom was stung today by one of these little beasts. Thanks to your site for identifying the type of caterpillar and treatment for pain. 32 years of gardening and weeding in the Daytona area and this was a first for her (she had been stung a few times years ago by a fat green caterpillar with spots that liked her Japanese Fan Palms, but never saw one of these!) She picked a bundle of parsley from her garden, brought it inside today to wash in sink, saw  what she thought was a dead leaf on side of parsley stem and handled it. Extreme pain followed on her hand (she is a tough lady and for her to describe the excruciating pain gave ME chills!!) She felt sick and very weak afterward. She followed your tape advice to remove quills and how to treat and felt better a few hours after, although her shoulder hurt later on same side as the sting?  She saved the little pest in a Ziploc bag, careful not to touch it at all... to show neighbors who garden to watch out for it. Hope we won't be finding these in southeast Florida where I live anytime soon. Thanks for the very good photos and advice. KC

August 10, 2004

I was stung on Aug. 10 by a Puss caterpillar. I was sitting on a swing and stuck my hand down and a puss caterpillar had stung me, within three seconds sharp pains went through my hand and up my arm. I immediately hit the ground crying, it was terrible pain and my whole arm turned cold and tense and then numb. The pain shot in and out and hurt so bad I couldn't sit still or quit crying. I tried everything and only ice mad it feel a little better. I then got sick and went to the emergency room and they gave me two shots. The next day the swelling went down and I was still in a lot of pain and was very tired and weak, I could notice where the spines in my skin was, I had two of them and they were really red and purple and had little dots on them. The next day after, the pain went away and the marks started to puss put and heal over, Thank goodness!!!! I thought I would share my story with you, thanks.       R. M.,. Mocksville, NC

August 9, 2004

My 12 year old granddaughter was stung by a puss caterpillar today in Chesapeake, Virginia. She put her hand on her gate to open it and accidentally touched the caterpillar. She had immediate excruciating pain in the palm of her hand. Her mother brought her (and the caterpillar) to the doctor immediately. They were able to identify the sting from the caterpillar and looking it up on the internet. This pediatric group had never had a case before and this is the first time in my sixty years that I have heard of it. 5 hours after the sting her hand, and up to her elbow, was still extremely painful.

August 9, 2004

Trenton, Florida
My husband was working in the yard cleaning out flower beds today around 6:00 p.m.  He pulled up a small oak tree sprout and immediately had excruciating pain in his hand.  He looked at the oak tree sprout and found this little hairy creature that he assumed had stung him.  We tried all sorts of things to relieve the burning and pain including ammonia, heat, cold compress and cortisone cream.  

It has been over 5 hours now with no let up of the pain.  Our son is a medical student  and we talked to him about what this creature could be.  He found the Puss Caterpillar on-line after we described it to him.  We then looked up "Puss Caterpillar" ourselves and found your site.  We appreciate all the information you have posted and will try the tape.  At this time the area is still burning and painful and very, very red.  The pain runs up his thumb and forefinger.  There is not much swelling, but hopefully the cold compress helped with that.  Again, thank you for the information. K.W.

Update on August 16: 

we applied the tape much too late....may have gotten some benefit from it, but couldn't really tell.....severe pain subsided after approximately 12 hours.....still tender for a day or two after that....thanks again for your information...next time we will use the tape first (hopefully there won't be a next time).

August 7, 2004

The sighting occured this afternoon, August 7, 2004.  We removed around 8 puss caterpillars from a Japanese maple - green leafed-one - in my backyard. Luckily nobody experienced any poisoning.  Though one of us touched one.  Never having seen any of these, the curiosity was great. 
 
I attempted to research the Web and was glad to find a probable identification.  Your Web Site is certainly very informative and extremely useful. 
 
Let us know if you want the ones we got off our tree and we will mail them to you.
 
Regards,
M.P.

Editor's Note: Thank you, but no... We have enough of these little guys in Texas as it is. You could send some digital pictures, though.

August 7, 2004

I never even saw the asp....I was taking my dog for a walk, and his leash got tangled in a bush in my front yard. While trying to untangle them, all of a sudden I felt excruciating pain on my arm. It immediately began to swell and make a nasty burn-like mark and rash. I had severe pain in my wrist, elbow, and under my arm. After 7 hours in the emergency room and injections of steroids, Demerol and Benadryl, I am feeling better. Immediately putting ice on it helped a bit, too. These suckers HURT. I'd never even heard of an asp, but the nurse practitioner recognized it immediately. I live in the Heights, so be careful Heights Houstonians!!

L.R., Houston, Texas

Editor's Note: I asked if she had used tape to remove the spines. Here's her reply --

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for the website! Very informative. I have tape right by my computer and used it on the bite as I read all the accounts. Not sure how well it worked yet because I'm still pretty drugged up, but seems like an effective method. Thank you!!

August 5, 2004

Thanks for your informative pages.  Here's a picture at +24 hrs...tagged me three times ...unbelievable pain...still hurts
I am in San Antonio.  At about 36 hours almost all pain was gone. I must admit, although I had known since childhood not to touch fuzzy caterpillars, I had no idea any animal so toxic was lurking in my backyard.
 
A.A.

August 5, 2004

I live in Jacksonville, Florida. My children brought me home some flowers out of my mother's yard and we noticed the fuzzy caterpillar. I would not allow them to touch it. We put it a pickle jar to watch it morph. We enjoy watching real life changes. Our intention is to watch it morph and release it. I was shocked and amazed to find out the potential danger associated with this cute little guy. We checked the rest of the plants in the area where my children pick flowers and we did not notice any more.
Thanks, J. E.

August 1, 2004

Hello,
Found one in north central Shavano area of San Antonio Texas. It was on a plant bench on the patio, moving at a snails pace. I'm not an expert on these creatures but I think it was really big, over an inch long and almost orange in color. I did not destroy it but took a leaf and held it in it's path and when the (asp) was almost completely on the leaf I threw it off in the ground cover which is planted under some oak trees. Now, after reading your information about them, I will be less kind to them in the future. I will certainly look before sitting on the patio bench. I had no idea they could get to be so plentiful and invasive. Many years ago when I was very young, I grabbed a tree limb as I was climbing an oak tree and to my painfully horrible surprise, I encountered a small one which was black if I recall correctly. It did not resemble this most recent one. The pain was as described by other writers, causing severe joint, muscle pain, fever, etc. This was about forty years ago in Victoria Texas. Thank you for the helpful information.
S.A.O.

July 31, 2004

I was stung by a puss caterpillar on the top of my right foot today.  I was trimming my one of my crepe myrtle trees.  At first I thought a fire ant had stung me because I had been stung by one the day before and the initial "sting feeling" was the same.  I immediately put deodorant on the sting site but it didn't help as it usually does with fire ant bites.  About 15 minutes later, I noticed the top of my foot began to hurt and my leg was a bit tingly, followed by a cramping pain in my thigh and groin area.  I thought that maybe I had injured myself while on my early morning run, but  I also knew the ache was different from a muscle injury. 

After several minutes the pain only got worse, so I called poison control.  The nurse on duty said it sounded like a sting from an "asp" (that's what we Texans call puss caterpillars!) She said their poison attacks the lymph nodes and that is why my groin area hurt.  She told me what warning signs to look for in case I was allergic and that it would hurt!   Ibuprofen didn't touch the pain, so when the pain got quite severe,  I took a pain pill that I had on hand (do you see  "pain" as the operative word here?).  Thank God for that pill, because my entire leg was severely aching within an hour after being stung.  An ice compress felt good on the sting site, but the leg still ached until the pain pill kicked in!   Eight hours after being stung, my leg still hurts, but the pain is bearable.

R.R., Richmond, Texas (just southwest of Houston)

July 30, 2004

Iím located in the Museum District of Houston. I found one of these on my patio, which is on the fourth floor. At first I thought it was a hairball, because we have two cats that lounge out on the patio all day. I took a couple of pictures and showed a few people, all of whom said they had never seen anything like it. Shortly thereafter, a couple of people that my wife works with saw two or three outside the office, which is close to the Greenway Plaza area. Then a friend of mine pressed his back against one when sitting in a chair outside, he drove himself to the emergency room. They seem to be plentiful this summer, even the Houston Chronicle ran a story recently.

I had no idea how dangerous they are when I encountered mine. I have seen plenty of the fuzzy black variety, but this oneís new to me.

Thanks for the informative site.

Iíve included a couple of pictures, they are low file size, If you would like the larger files Iíll be happy to send them. It is crawling over a bicycle tire in the picture.

C. M.

July 30, 2004

On Friday, July 30, 2004 I was going to get into the passenger side of our truck to head to Conroe. I live near downtown Houston, off Allen Parkway. I had to brush up against a fan palm tree that is planted next to my driveway to get into my car. I felt something on the top of my calf, behind my knee. It was starting to get dark and I couldn't see all that well. I don't know if I went to brush it off or bent my knee, but it stung me and totally freaked me out. 

I had no idea what it was. I started yelling out of shock because it hurt so quickly. I think I then flicked it and it appeared to go into the car but I didn't see where it went. I got into the car and we continued our journey to Conroe. As we were driving along I-45 the pain kept getting worse and worse. I had no idea what bit/stung me which is a very scary feeling. Anyway, as we were driving I called my friend who is a life-time Texan. When he answered the phone I told him it might be an emergency and that I got bit/stung by something, but I didn't know what it was. He laughed at me and said it was an "Asp" and that he never heard of anyone getting stung, but, had heard that it was painful. I have been in Houston 20 years and I have never heard of them until I got stung. 

He got on the internet and check it out for me and the most important information that he gave me was to use tape and get the stingers out and apply ice to the wound. I happened to have a cold bottle of water in the car and that really helped. My biggest fear was that the pain started radiating down my leg to my ankle and then up my leg. It actually made it to my lymph-glands and then into my lower intestines in about 30 minutes. I started having severe intestinal cramps and started to panic a bit. Luckily, from what my friend could see that it probably will not kill me. I didn't want to deal with the emergency room in Houston and even worse I have heard some horror stories about Conroe so I wasn't wanting to go there either. So, what I learned was use tape to get the stinger out, take some benedryl and take Motrin or some other ibuprofen. Once I got to Conroe I did a little more research on the internet and felt better. For the rest of the night the wound wept fluid, but, by morning I was recovered except for the two marks left as a little reminder of the fun I had the night before.

By the way, I went to the drug store and bought a flash light to see if I could find the bug in the car. Sure enough, it was in the back seat, on the floor, headed towards my 3 year olds leg who was sleeping in his car seat. I can't imagine what it would have been like if he had gotten bitten.

G.C.

Follow-up on August 4: I found that the putting ice on the the sting spot, (I used a cold bottle of water) and a sip of children's Benedryl alone with a montrin I was able to stand it. Again, once I got the stinger out I felt a lot better and could tell I was recovering. I went to bed at 10:00 p.m. that night and then ran 7 miles at 6:00 a.m. I also put Neo-sporin (sp) on the spots. I recovered quickly, however I am seriously a bit more afraid of caterpillars now.

July 30, 2004

Jerry, I e-mailed you last year when my sister was stung, and I just wanted to report that they are back again this year on the same bushes. My dad sprayed last year and killed them, but today we noticed them again. We live in Winona Mississippi, about 120 miles south of Memphis. No one around here  has ever seen them and I didn't see any other reports from Mississippi except down on the coast which is about 500 miles south of here. Thanks, B.P.

Update as of 8/1/04: Did you get the pictures I sent? Let me know and I'll try to resend. We sprayed them on Saturday and hopefully killed them. Haven't seen any more  thanks, B.P.

July 28, 2004

Hi

I live in Seadrift, Tx. That is about 30 miles south of Victoria. In the last month I have been stung by this type of creature 2 times (a photo of one of the stings is attached). The pain is almost unbearable. Last evening I was stung and it was the all time worst! I have been trying to find information about them and how to get rid of them. Do you have any suggestions about spraying what can be done to defend ourselves against them? The ones we have seen and been stung by are the brown ones like the photo on your website. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

 
Thanks,
A.S., Seadrift, Texas

Editor's Note: information on treating these insects can be found at the following web page:

http://www.bugsinthenews.com/treating_puss_caterpillar_infest.htm

July 28, 2004

I'm inside Houston's Loop 610 3 miles north of downtown.  In the past week I have found 3 of these little devils on my back porch railing and 1 on my back door.  Three of them appeared to be dead while 1 was moving along at a rather rapid pace.  Having had an encounter with these many years ago I carefully moved them to some waste paper (not using my fingers) then folded the paper and crushed the bodies before disposing of them.  My neighbor received a good sting from one while gardening this weekend.  Although I have not looked yet, I suspect that I will find more on my neighbor's live oak tree.

D.D., Houston, Texas

July 25, 2004

My three year old son got hit by one of these on left hand....I captured the critter and have it in a glass.......Location...Ingleside,Texas,USA.  across Corpus Christi Bay...small town...was near grapefruit tree in back yard at residence....used tape on it quickly......7 pm this date..........D. H.

July 21, 2004

I found one of these fellows on my deck last night.  I captured it for my 9 year old niece to put in her bug cage to see what it might turn into.  I had no idea of it's toxicity since I recently moved to the New Orleans area from Wisconsin.  We don't have stinging caterpillars there.  Today I thought I would try to identify it and came across your site.  I was so alarmed when it read about Puss Caterpillar stings!  I immediately called my niece and told her to have her father release the caterpillar in the woods far from the house. AND DON'T TOUCH!

B.S., New Orleans, La.

July 10, 2004

I live Uptown New Orleans and just discovered these nasty critters eating my Louisiana Iris. I am purchasing thuracide and will hopefully get this situation under control before I get bitten and really mad! Thanks for the good info!

K, G.,  New Orleans, LA

July 8, 2004

Had my first and I hope last experience with a puss caterpillar today while trimming my crepe myrtle tree.  I was attempting to pull one of the trimmed branches off and, oh my gosh, what a feeling!!!!  It was like a bee sting but only worse.  I immediately looked at the branch that I had just handled and there it was, the little monster!  Not until I researched it under "asp" did I learn that it was also called a puss caterpillar.
 
Treating it like a bee sting, I put a ice cube on my finger.  When that didn't relieve the pain, I did what any smart woman does, called my mother-in-law!!!  Being a little Sicilian woman, she told me to put fresh peeled garlic on it.  With a snicker in my voice, I told her oh sure, put I was desperate so I did it.  Much to my surprise it did relieve the pain a bit for a while but later in the evening it returned.  Today, the pain is gone but I do have the reddish dots marking the area.
 
I have investigated and notice an abundance of these little things in my oak trees.  I guess I'll be doing some calling for pest control.
 
I live in League City which is about 40 miles south of Houston.
 
Thanks for your site it is very informative.
 
K. A.
League City, TX

 

July 6, 2004

Today I killed a puss caterpillar in my oak tree and yesterday I killed one in the same tree.  I guess "they're back" here, too.  We have not put out anything to get rid of fire ants, I was hoping that they would help us out with this pest!!!  Last fall I know I killed at least 300 of these horrible things.  We sprayed our trees and about the same time a north wind blew in so I don't know which method helped but after that we haven't seen any until now.
 
CV, Wharton, Wharton County, Texas

Ed. Note: Wharton County is southwest of Houston on highway 59 on the Texas coastal plain.

July 5, 2004

According to the ER doctor whom I visited early this morning, I was stung by an ďAspĒ or Puss Caterpillar last night after picking up an armload of branches I had just pruned from a Crepe Myrtle tree.  I live approx. 40 miles west of Fort Worth , Texas in a rural location and was pruning a friendís tree in her yard.

I immediately felt as if a thorn had punctured the skin on my right bicep.  While driving home, I realized that this felt much more like a sting or bite and held a frozen water bottle to the area as the pain increased and the arm weakened to the point that I had to drive with the left hand.   I have been stung by wasps and scorpions and have never been very bothered with the stings!  This seemed to be a signal to my husband that this was not your ordinary bite/sting and he subsequently called my doctor.  She recommended taking 4  ibuprofen on top of the prescription pain killer we had scraped up to combat the pain.  She said if the area was to discolor or the pain to worsen to go to the ER.

This morning we decided to have this checked out.   I know a young lady that recently was hospitalized after a Brown Recluse bite and was hospitalized for 3 weeks.  I was anxious not to end up in a similar predicament.  I have included a picture of the area approx 14 hrs after the incident occurred.  Last night we marked the area with a pen to show the borders of the redness after 5 hours and it had greatly subsided revealing the tiny puncture-like marks all in a row.  I

I applied tape immediately after reading this suggestion on your site and was able to extract a few quills.

Notable symptoms: Searing pain which seemed to shoot throughout my arm, down my right lat and chest area.  Stinging pin-prick type sensations which seemed to be as a result of more than a single sting.  Stinging pain deep into the muscle.  Significant weakness in the right arm.  Increased pain when moving the arm and not deriving any relief from changed positioning.  Intermittent stiffness in the arm and neck. Extended duration of pain.

I hope someone may find this information helpful.  I am grateful the ER doctor was able to recognize the sting and for finding this site.  I would be happy to answer any additional questions.

P. E.

July 3, 2004

Just wanted to drop you a quick note letting you know that they are in River Ridge, La. (about 15 minutes east of New Orleans).  They are having a party in my butterfly iris.  We have been treating our yard for the past couple of years with Over and Out" for fire ants- this is the second year I noticed the creatures.  I did not know what they were until my husband was stung this morning and we started researching it.  There are not many and there will be fewer once the garden center opens.
 
Terri G

Ed. Note: Over & Out fire ant granules contain a broad-spectrum, highly residual toxicant (Fipronil) that destroys most of the insects in the soil where it is used. It is surmised that broad-spectrum toxicants tend to destroy the natural predators of the puss caterpillar, thereby aiding them in surviving where they would otherwise be kept in check by mother nature.

June 5, 2004

Hello,

I live in Kingsville, TX (south TX) and was stung by a 'puss caterpillar' last night. As I was trying to sleep in my bed I rolled on my stomach and the pain began! I felt a sharp stinging sensation on my throat (right near my adam's apple). I thought it was a bee or spider that got me but when I turned on the lights and looked in the mirror I saw this furry slug that looked like a tiny 'tribble' from the old Star Trek TV show crawling on the neck of my shirt. No idea how he got there. Anyway, after uttering a few unprintable words I decided the best thing to do was to cut the little guy in half with some scissors in order to study it... well, mostly for revenge. But I did not touch him again!

The stinging continued and expanded to my chest, back of my neck and jaw. I was concerned because I have had some allergic reaction to bee and wasp stings before. Mostly the pain was topical but I did feel strong muscle pain in my chest, neck, and jaw muscles. I took two benadryl and tried some benadryl spray- the latter helped alleviate immediate pain but it came back shortly after. I then used your website to identify what kind of 'furry slug' this thing was and discovered the tape trick. I used a bunch of tape to try and get the spines out but found it difficult to determine if I got them all- probably due to the fact that the spines are microscopic. My wife made a poultice from baking soda and water that I smeared all over my neck.

This was by far the best treatment so far. The stinging subsided greatly and I was able to go to sleep. But not until I cut the little guy up a few more times with the scissors! It is now nine hours after the stinging occurred and the affected area is tender but the pain is gone. It seems that my prior reaction to bee stings made no difference in relation to the sting of a 'puss caterpillar'.

Thanks for the great website and all your hard work.

Craig

Editor's Note: Kingsville, Texas is in south Texas, about halfway between Victoria (which is at about the same latitude as Houston) and Brownsville (the southern tip of the state). 

May 29, 2004

I'm writing this from Pharr, TX.  My son picked up a hairy gray caterpillar yesterday.  He put it in a bag and kept it.  Today I told him that he should put it in his insect carrier.  He wanted to know what kind it was so I started looking on the internet.  I discovered that it wasn't a caterpillar we wanted to keep.  Praise God, it didn't sting either one of us.  It had crawled on both of us.  When I read the info on your sight, I thought I should send a note and let you know that they are here.  Pharr is located next to McAllen in far south Texas.  Thanks for posting the reports and pictures.  It was a very big help in making a positive identification of this caterpillar.
Sincerely,
Julia

Editor's Note: Pharr, Texas is near McAllen, in the southern tip of the state.

May 19, 2004

I contributed an encounter report with the Puss Caterpillar on November 18, 2004.  I have a question. When is the best time of year to spray for these (using the biologically-safe spray)?
I'm from Houston, Texas. What time of year do these larvae or caterpillars appear?  I'm thinking it's about time to spray for them, but I want to spray at the most optimal time ie when the
spray will be most effective. Would it not be true that if the asps eat the microbes and fall out of the tree they would still pose a problem, since they still sting when dead?
 
R.S.

Editor's Note: spraying with a Bacillus thuringinsis, var. kurstaki (B.t.k.)biological insecticide works only when the caterpillars are present, and works best when they are young and still eating large amounts of leaf matter each day. Preventative spraying with a B.t.k. product will not be productive, but spraying or dusting with it soon after the first puss caterpillars are seen will work well. It is true that the dead caterpillars still sting. However, if you wait until you first see these caterpillars, then spray or dust with B.t.k. all the shrubs and trees that they might be found on, that will produce the best results.

April 26, 2004

We live in Silsbee, Texas. My wife thinks she was stung by one today ( Asp). We put soda, she took a benedryl, and we tried tape a few minutes ago. In the last few days we have seen plenty of these asps. 

Mr. & Mrs JWD.

Editor's Note: Silsbee, Texas is located 15 miles north of Beaumont in the Pineywoods of East Texas, not far from the gulf coast.

Click here for archived puss caterpillar reports from previous years.

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