The Puss Moth Caterpillar

May 2, 2011 | Insect Bites

Caterpillars are usually viewed as being, soft, gentle  ‘creepy crawlies’ which eventually turn into beautiful moths or butterflies.

However, in the USA, especially in Texas, there is a species of caterpillar which carries an extremely venomous sting.

This is the Puss Moth Caterpillar, or more commonly known as the asp. If the caterpillar comes into contact with human skin, it will cause its venomous hairs to penetrate the skin leading to a rash and a very severe burning sensation.

Some Facts About The Puss Moth.

n  The puss moth caterpillar tends to inhabit, shady trees and shrubs in domestic areas.

n  It carries long fur like hair, and its head and legs cannot be observed due to its tear drop shape.

n  The colour of the asp is a mix of grey, yellow and orange.

n  On the body of the caterpillar there are numerous short hairs which carry the venom, which transfer the toxic poison to any person it contacts.

n  It moves on seven pair of prolegs, and has suction clasps at the rear of its body.

n  When reaching maturity, the moth can be up to one and a half inches in length.

n  As an adult moth, it can have a two inch wingspan. The wings are blunt, and carry wavy hairs.

n  The wings of the adult are orange at their base, and cream coloured at the tips.

Signs and Characteristics of Asp Sting.

If skin contact is made by the puss moth caterpillar, the venom transferred can pose a danger to health. Some of the symptoms of such contact are – -

n  Either immediately or within 5 minutes  intense throbbing pain will be experienced.

n  If the sting was on the arm, then further pain may be experienced in the armpit.

n  There will be evidence of Erythematous, or blood spots in the vicinity of the sting.

n  Headaches, nausea, and stomach discomfort will be noticed .

n  Some swelling of the lymph glands may follow.

n  And there could be breathing difficulties, and signs of shock.

The symptoms of the sting can pass away quickly, but it may take a few days for the bloodspots to disappear. In more severe toxicity case, it may take 5/6 days for the symptoms to go away completely.

Treatment for Puss Moth Stings.

For very severe cases, when the sufferer is experiencing an allergic reaction, or eye damage, a Physician should be consulted immediately. But for more general treatment the following steps should be taken.

n  Apply an ice cold compress to the area, repeating as necessary.

n  Give the person Anti Histamine medicine orally.

n  For cases of severe pain, Codeine or Meperidine Hydrochloride may be recommended.

n  If any hairy spines can be seen in the sting, apply a strip of cellotape to the area and pull it away quickly. This will remove any residual venomous hairs.

This last recommendation is beneficial in the cases where the caterpillar is strong and has a broad spine, as in the case of the Io and Saddleback caterpillar.

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