8-month-old was rushed to the hospital after biting on a caterpillar
Caterpillars may seem like cute and colorful fuzzy creatures. They are fun to watch, but here’s one thing people should know: it’s best to admire these insects from a distance.
Krystal Pyne, a young mom from Nanaimo, Canada, was on her back deck with her 3-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter. Suddenly, the girl started screaming.
The mom couldn’t see what was wrong until she looked into her baby’s mouth. There was something black in it. Krystal attempted to wipe it off with a wet cloth, but to no avail.
The concerned mother took her daughter to the hospital. There, a nurse suggested it could be a caterpillar, and Krystal realized it was quite possible since there were a lot of these creatures around her deck.
The doctor took a look and confirmed that it was indeed a caterpillar. Krystal’s daughter was transferred to a hospital in Victoria, where she underwent surgery to remove caterpillar spines (hairs). According to Krystal’s post on Facebook, her daughter did well. She also warned other parents about “cute fuzzy orange and black caterpillars.”
What to do if someone came into contact with a caterpillar
Caterpillars aren’t particularly dangerous compared to some other insects, such as ticks or wasps. Still, caterpillars of certain species can cause trouble if you touch them.
Some caterpillars have tiny hairs (or spines) on their bodies. If these hairs come into contact with your skin or mucous membranes (say, the eyes or mouth), they can cause a rash, itching, and pain. Such contact may occur if you accidentally touch a caterpillar. In some species, their spines or hairs can become detached and land on your skin, eyes, and clothes. Also, young children may put caterpillars into their mouths.
Here’s what you should do in case of a caterpillar exposure, according to the National Capital Poison Center:
1. If the caterpillar is still on your skin, don’t remove it with your bare hands!
2. Gently apply sticky tape on the exposed area, then rip it off to remove the hairs or spines. Repeat several times with fresh pieces of tape to remove all hairs/spines or as many hairs/spines as possible.
3. Wash the affected area gently with soap and water.
4. If there’s itching, make a paste from baking soda and water and apply it on the affected area. If the paste is not effective, apply a hydrocortisone cream, and if that doesn’t help, apply an antihistamine cream.
5. Call your doctor if the affected area is badly blistered. You should also get medical help if the caterpillar’s hairs/spines came into contact with the mucous lining in the mouth or eyes.
6. You may also need a tetanus booster shot; ask your doctor if you need one.
Talking about children, explain to them that they shouldn’t touch caterpillars, and what can happen if they do. Stay safe!