How to treat a buck moth caterpillar sting

Updated: Apr. 3, 2015 at 6:59 PM CDT
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Buck Moth Caterpillar- WVUE FOX 8 Image
Buck Moth Caterpillar- WVUE FOX 8 Image

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Spring brings a painful downside in south Louisiana in the form of stinging buck moth caterpillars.

Anyone who has come in contact with one will attest their soft fuzzy look is deceiving.

Dr. James Diaz of LSU Health Sciences Center shares advice on how to cope with the painful sting.

The toxins in the caterpillar's spines cause the pain.

If you're stung, you should first wash the area with soap and water. To avoid further imbedding the spines, allow the wound to air dry or use a hair dryer.

Dr. James Diaz suggests, "The best thing to do is to find some duct tape or scotch tape and use it to try and pull the spines out because they're continuing to inject to toxin."

An alternative is to paint the area with clear fingernail polish, rubber cement or even a facial peel solution. Allow that to dry, then peel off to remove the toxic spines.

To soothe the stinging and itching, apply rubbing alcohol, ammonia or an ice pack.

Topical and oral antihistamines may also help relieve the symptoms.

To avoid the sting, Dr. Diaz says resist the urge to swat or brush away a caterpillar.

"Just take a little stick or a pencil or anything other than your hand and gently lift them off."

He cautions, consider all caterpillars venomous and avoid unnecessary contact with living or dead caterpillars, or even their internal contents and their cocoons.