Texas invaded by puss caterpillars

GEORGETOWN, Texas – They're cute, they look cuddly but beware, and they could send you to the emergency room.

The number of puss caterpillars has spiked in Central Texas lately.

Nicole Meneses was checking on some baby birds in her backyard last Friday.

"I lifted up the tree branch just a little bit, so I could see in the nest and when I did, I felt something poking me on my finger."

She went inside to wash her hands. That's when the burning and pain kicked in.

"So, I came back out here to see if I could find anything in the tree."

And she did, a furry caterpillar called an asp. Her pain got so bad, she had to go to the emergency room like many other central Texans.

"And it was by far the worst pain I'd ever felt in my life."

Texas entomologist Mike Quinn says an outbreak like this is often due to increased rainfall.

"Different species, different years, we'll have a population explosion -- very common phenomenon," Quinn said.

And Quinn said asps have a much longer larvae stage than other caterpillars, six weeks instead of two. Giving more time for people to cross their paths.

So, say you do get stung, let's say it's on your finger. Medical experts say that you can use packaging tape to actually rip the spines out, follow that up with a baking soda paste, and then use ice to decrease any pain and swelling that you might have.

Of course, if these symptoms don't go away, you should definitely seek medical attention.

"Yeah, I feel better now."

Meneses feels like herself again, but warns others along with Quinn to especially be wary around trees.

He says these could be around until early November.


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