Poisonous stinging hair caterpillars can cause itchy reaction

NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Bees and hornets aren’t the only insects that sting to defend themselves. A stinging hair caterpillar can also cause a painful reaction.

Leslie Lewis, of New Middletown, says a caterpillar stung her 7-year-old son after he picked it up and carried it around.

It dropped on his shirt and within minutes, the first grader started complaining about being itchy.

“When I pulled up the shirt, I noticed almost clear spines going through the shirt,” Lewis said. “Then when I took off his shirt, I noticed that they were just sticking in his stomach.”

The insect stung the boy through his shirt. Lewis tried to pull the spines out, but her son got a rash within ten minutes.

When the bumps and rash wouldn’t go away, she took him to the emergency room.

“After we left the ER, we got a cream. The cream didn’t really do very much, so I followed up with a regular pediatrician and he recommended going to a dermatologist.”

Lewis’ son is doing okay, although he still has a rash and scarring bumps left from the stings.

After going to three doctors, she’s had enough.

“I would not recommend playing with cute, fuzzy caterpillars,” Lewis said.

The stinging hair caterpillar is capable of causing severe stings because its hairs are connected to poison sacs that inject toxins.

They can be either white or yellow, but there are many other poisonous caterpillars of different colors. For a list of stinging caterpillars with pictures and descriptions, visit the Poison Control Center’s website.

If you get stung, use tape to pull out some of the broken spines and then wash the area to remove some of the venom. Ice packs can help relieve pain, as can a baking soda and water paste.