Girl, 5, Hospitalized After Bite From Poisonous Caterpillar That Can Make 'Bones Hurt'
Daycare workers told her mom that she was bitten by 'the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States'
A girl from Texas is recovering after she was stung by a caterpillar covered in venomous spines that can cause more pain than a sting from a bee.
Lauren Chambers’ 5-year-old daughter, Adrie, was playing outside of her daycare last week when workers believe a Southern flannel moth caterpillar fell from a tree and bit her on the arm, according to NBC Dallas-Fortworth. The insect — which is found in New Jersey and Florida, and westward to Arkansas and Texas — is also known as the “furry puss” caterpillar due to the hair that covers its body, which can resemble a cat, according to National Geographic.
Because of its cute appearance, children commonly reach out to pet the insect and suffer a painful and poisonous sting when they come into contact with the spines hidden beneath its hair.
When daycare workers discovered what happened and that Adrie was experiencing swelling and an upset stomach following the bite, they immediately phoned her mother.
“They said that she had been stung by the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States,” Chambers told NBC.
University of Florida entomologist Don Hall said the caterpillar’s toxic spines can cause enough pain to make “your bones hurt.”
“A puss caterpillar sting feels like a bee sting, only worse. The pain immediately and rapidly gets worse after being stung, and can even make your bones hurt,” Hall told National Geographic.
“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.”
While speaking to NBC, Adrie said the bite caused a “burning” sensation on her right arm. The pain from the sting can last up to 12 hours.
The quick-thinking daycare workers are being credited by doctors for saving Adrie from even more pain by using tape to remove the stingers from her skin.
“They said if that had not happened it could actually cause her whole body to go numb and start shutting down,” Chambers said.
While speaking to the new station, Chambers was still in disbelief about what happened to her daughter.
“How does that happen? We have those here in Texas?” she asked. “I mean I never even heard of those before yesterday.”
In June, a 15-year-old from Florida was sent to the emergency room when he was stung by a furry puss caterpillar, which caused a rash to spread throughout his arm and chest. In 2017, a 5-year-old boy from Florida was rushed to the hospital by his mother after he let out a “blood curdling” scream when he touched one of the insects.
Fortunately, as NBC notes, the caterpillars will be heading into their cocoons in the next few weeks. When they turn into moths, their poisonous spines will be gone.