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A Muskoka woman warns of venomous caterpillars after being bitten this past weekend

September 23, 2019

 

 

 

Nicole from Muskoka writes about her first hand experience with a venomous caterpillar. 🐛 


I will use myself as an example to hopefully make people more aware of these furry creatures and save someone else from experiencing what I did.


As a kid, I remember playing with caterpillars. But trust me, unless you want to experience firsthand what those tiny cute little spiky hairs are capable of, then don't go anywhere near them unless you know they are friendly. 


On Thursday afternoon, I felt something tickling my back, I tried to look to see what it was and shake my dress, but it still continued. Went on for about 5 minutes, at which point it was stinging and burning in pain. My 3 year old saw it first, the caterpillar that had been stuck to the back of my dress. I called for my husband who got it off and then checked my back. I'm so thankful neither of them touched it with their hands. 


Almost immediately, my back had swollen and everywhere that little thing had touched or rubbed against, had broken out into an itchy painful rash. Too painful to even touch let alone scratch. You see, it's not their mouth or bite you have to be worried about, it's the thousand tiny hairs that contain venomous ends, that scratch you and send toxins into your body. 

 

This little guy was stuck in the belt of my dress for I don't know how long, and he managed to rub and squeeze his way through the material onto my back, buttocks and spine. 


I experienced severe pain in my back in the affected areas, like my muscles were sore and tired. It made me sick to my stomach to the point where I had to be by a bathroom because I wasn't sure what end it would come out of. I was sweating, itchy and sore but by last night, I was tired and crawled into bed, thinking maybe my rash would clear up by morning.


I was worse by today, with the rash down my arms and left hand, ending up in my local emergency department. The doctor researched and thinks it was a Giant Killer Gypsy Moth Caterpillar, extremely venomous and can cause serious allergic reactions when exposed, or death. In fact, when we researched the little bugger, we found this out: 


"When it comes to this fuzzy caterpillar, you can look, but you sure don't want to touch. ... It's the most venomous caterpillar in the U.S. and even a simple brush with the insect can cause "excruciating pain," according to National Geographic. The caterpillars' fur hides toxic spines that stick to your skin."


I was immediately on a strong steroid IV, for 2 treatments. The doctor said because most of the exposure was near and on my spine, it absorbed into my bloodstream faster. He said I was lucky I got there when I did, because the toxins affect your muscles and can affect your chest and breathing as well. I was sent home after a day and observation, to continue my steroid treatment, with Benadryl for the itch and if it gets worse, I've been told not to hesitate, just get to the ER.


These caterpillars are not native originally to this area but have been brought in and are becoming an invasive species, turning into the Killer Gypsy Moth when fully transformed. They may be beautiful folks, but trust me, their touch can be deadly. Pass this along to your family and friends. Tell your children to be aware. Hopefully this can reach at least some people who would have otherwise been in the same situation, or worse.
Nicole
Muskoka, Ontario 

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