Dangerous Caterpillars

6 Feb

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

I have moved the Hairstreak butterflies to next week. I thought it would be a good idea to show you some dangerous moth caterpillars before we move on, since we talked about harmless Florida moths last week. Most are harmless, but there are some Florida moths that can cause severe pain and possible reactions. Many caterpillars have hairs or spines. Some contain poison glands. In contact with human skin, they can cause pain, rashes, itching, burning, swelling, and blistering like this puss moth caterpillar.

Avoiding caterpillars with hairs or spines is best.
To treat a caterpillar exposure:

1. If the caterpillar is on the skin, remove it without using your hands!Gently put tape over the exposed area, sticky side down. (Any kind of tape will do.)

2. Pull up the tape, removing the hairs or spines.

3. Repeat with fresh pieces of tape as often as needed to treat the area involved.

4. Wash the area gently with soap and water.

5. If the area itches, put on a paste of baking soda and water.
Use ice pack to reduce swelling.

6. If that doesn’t help, try Zanfel Benadryl or a hydrocortisone cream.

7. If that doesn’t help, try an antihistamine cream. That shouldn’t be the first choice, as it doesn’t always help. Also, some people have skin reactions to these creams.

8. If the area is badly blistered, contact your health provider.

9. Call your health provider about a tetanus booster if your shots are not up to date.

The southern flannel moth, Megalopyge opercularis is an attractive small moth that is best-known because of its larva, the puss caterpillar, which is one of the most venomous caterpillars in the United States. The southern flannel moth (puss caterpillar)  is found from New Jersey to Florida and west to Arkansas and Texas. It is common in Florida but reaches its greatest abundance in Texas from Dallas southward in the western central part of the state. Found on Oaks and citrus.

 
Buck Moth found on Oak and Willow.
The adult buck moths have a flight period that occurs between October and November. as late as December in Florida.  The adults are active during the day and are very quick fliers, and can be found flying most commonly between noon and 2:00 pm in oak forests during sunny weather
Lo Moth

Lo Moth found on Ixora and rose. Adult moths are strictly nocturnal, flying generally only during the first few hours of the night.
Saddleback

Saddleback caterpillar and moth. Host plants are many plants, vegetables, flowers, citrus, maples, oaks, and blueberries.
Spines can become airborne and consequently be inhaled or contact sensitive tissues like the eyes and nose.
Spiny Oak Slug
Spiny Oak-Slug Host plants – Oak and willow, apple, blueberry, sycamore and more.  caterpillars seen from late June to October.

Tussock
 A large caterpillar 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 inches.  Stinging hairs are intermixed with soft hairs in diffuse tufts. Host plants – Oak, willow and deciduous plants.

I love spotting Hairstreaks in the garden. They are small and fly fast, but once you focus your eyes on them you’ll see their delightful display of rubbing their hindwings together in the typical fashion of most hairstreaks. It’s mesmerizing.  This back-and-forth movement makes the moving appendages on the hind wings look like anntennae, apparently to fool predators into attacking a less vital part of their body. They like to bask in the sun with their head down and hindwings up with it’s false antenae in motion.
Please join me next week. We will look at the Hairstreak butterflies.

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

One Response to “Dangerous Caterpillars”

  1. divoran09 February 9, 2018 at 4:06 pm #

    lovely post though scary. Our daughter had an encounter when she was a child with a saddleback. She was holding it in her hand. The encounter was quite painful. It’s good to know that such things exist in advance.

    Like

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