Cute, Cuddly, and Catastrophic 

Cute, Cuddly, and Catastrophic 

Jeremiah Bailey, Staff Writer

Caterpillars are known for their cute and harmless nature. This caterpillar appears to be nothing more than a little fuzzball crawling around and living life. Despite their harmless-looking appearance, These caterpillars are considered North America’s most venomous caterpillar species. One touch can result in a long and painful trip to the hospital.

 Jordan Meredith was just standing in the parking lot at work, when suddenly she was overcome with pain. Her skin near her ankle turned red and she was rushed to the emergency room. She said the pain only got worse as the hours passed

“It felt, and having said this because I just broke my arm last year, it felt like I had broken my ankle. It was that debilitating,” said Meredith in an interview with ABC 13.

She soon found out that a tiny caterpillar, often called an Asp caterpillar, was the culprit. The Pest Police said the caterpillars are often in oak trees, rose bushes and ivy.

 “The pain could include burning, itching, rashes, blistering, trouble breathing, chest pains,” said Mikal Shamsi of Pest Police in an interview with ABC 13. 

Despite their harmless-looking appearance, asp caterpillars are considered North America’s most venomous caterpillar species, according to a study are covered with hundreds of spiky needles that upon touching can cause severe allergic reactions, paralysis and sometimes, even death.

The caterpillars’ telltale signs are the long, hairlike spines that look like fur and their coloring, which Shamsi said can range from beige, tan, grey, or even a “Garfield orange.” in an interview with Chron local news. 

But something unknown about these aspsn is the Texas Medical Center apparently created a bastion for them by keeping grackles and pigeons from landing on trees via protective netting. Turns out, the lack of avian predators due to netting was affecting the abundance of caterpillars. In fact, caterpillars were 7,300 percent more abundant on netted trees in the Med Center than in non-netted trees nearby. 

Though these caterpillars can be a “pain in the asp” and now you know just how painful they can truly be. Stay safe and asp free.