Thursday, September 11, 2014
I thought I knew about any insect that could possibly bite you in rural Alabama.
Mosquitos, just like in Mississippi, are prevalent, but they’ve never really bothered me. My youngest daughter, Erin, can go outside in the evening with me and get back in the house with 10 or 15 bites, and I have none.
My sister Gayla fell in a huge fire ant bed once when we were growing up over in Marion County, Ala. It was a frightening situation, to say the least.
We have a few fire ants in Mississippi, too.
Roaming the country during my youth, I encountered wasps, yellow jackets, bumble-bees and so on and so forth.
I saw caterpillars. They were typically plentiful when I was helping tend to the family garden. But I never got stung by one. Heck, I didn’t even know they could sting.
On Labor Day, Emma and Erin drove to Alabama for a cookout with my family. Pam stayed back for housework. I stayed back for South Reporter work.
While taking it easy outside at my sister’s house, Emma felt a sudden, sharp sting on the upper part of her leg. It hurt. She looked around and couldn’t immediately notice the culprit.
Then my brother-in-law noticed a fuzzy looking critter in the grass.
“Stinging caterpillar,” he said.
My sister administered some medication for Emma’s pain.
It gradually got better but the “stinging caterpillar” also left its mark on her leg, which stuck with her for a good while.
Emma did a little research, via the Internet, and found there are several types of “stinging caterpillars.” In fact, more than 50 species in the United States are capable of inflicting a painful sting. Those stinging fibers and hairs are a form of protection against predators – like Emma, I guess.
Some of the worse stings can causes things like upper airway inflammation, rash, nausea, vomiting and headaches.
Emma determined she was stung by a puss caterpillar – a hairy little creature.
And her research shows it’s one of the most poisonous in the U.S.
And it appears it’s surfacing in not only Alabama but also in Mississippi and Tennessee.
Saturday, I received a text from Latoye Zinn of Holly Springs, who asked “Have you done a story on these?”
She attached a photo of a puss caterpillar.
Then she asked, “Did she (Emma) go to the emergency room? They are on the rise but so cute.”
One Internet report said the puss caterpillar “looks harmless enough, even inviting petting, but stay far away from this furry caterpillar.”
The article, from the Cox Media Group National Content Desk, said the puss caterpillar cannot only cause pain but also vomiting and convulsions.
It also said, if you get accidentally stung by one, place Scotch tape over the area and remove it to take out the spines. Then cover with ice packs to reduce stinging, followed by a baking soda and water paste. Also, flush the area with soap and water, monitor the sting, and if the pain or swelling gets worse, see a doctor.
Emma, thank goodness, was OK. But she had a tough week. A few days later, she was stung by a yellow jacket, and her foot was swollen until this past Sunday.
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