Kids know that they shouldn't touch bees and wasps, but when it comes to caterpillars, possibly the cutest of all insects, it's hard for them to not want to pet the furry, little crawlers. However, it turns out there are certain species of caterpillars that definitely should not be touched. It's a lesson one mom learned the hard way and now she's warning other parents about the unknown dangers of some butterflies-to-be.
When Lauryn Mae Jordan's four-year-old son Beau became violently sick, she thought he was just coming down with something, but when his face swelled up and he was overcome with drowsiness, she knew something was very wrong and took him to the hospital. It turns out that the day before, Beau had touched a caterpillar that carries toxins, and that's what made him sick.
Lauryn thinks the caterpillar was an oak processionary moth, which is covered in an irritant that can cause rashes, severe vomiting and even life-threatening asthma attacks.
However, a caterpillar expert thinks it might be another toxic type called the four-spotted footman. He spoke to the Plymouth Herald about people reacting to the insects saying, "Some people seem to have more sensitive skin than others, particularly children, so to be on the safe side it's always best to avoid direct skin contact with any hairy caterpillar."
Thankfully, Beau didn't need treatment and was able to leave the hospital soon after being admitted, however, his mother said it "could have been much worse." In her Facebook post warning parents, she added, "Who knew caterpillars could do this?"
There are actually quite a few caterpillars that can cause problems. Here are some of them:
Io Caterpillar - Those green hairs on it actually have little spikes on them that will lodge in your skin if you touch the insect. The Io caterpillar can be found all over the country.
Saddleback Caterpillar - The hairs on this fella don't have spikes, but they will cause you a painful rash and nausea. This guy lives in the Eastern U.S.
Bag Shelter Caterpillar - This insect is like a porcupine only deadlier - the hairs on his back have venom that will cause your blood to stop clotting, and could lead to a potentially deadly hemorrhage. They can be found in the southern states.
Hickory Tussock Caterpillar - Overall, this caterpillar is harmless, except for those who are allergic to it. The problem is, most people aren't sure if they are allergic to it or not until it's too late, so it's best to just avoid it. They can be found in the eastern states.
Puss Caterpillar - It may look like a tiny sloth, but if you even just brush against its skin, you might suffer from chest pain and have trouble breathing. They live in the central and eastern states.
Brown Tailed Moth Caterpillar - Touching this crawler might have you breaking out in a rash and suffering a painful headache. They live in eastern U.S.
If you or anyone in your family touches a caterpillar and exhibits some kind of symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
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