For those nature lovers who regularly go exploring and hiking and want to introduce their families to the wonders of the wilderness, this viral story should serve as a severe reminder of how one should respect Mother Nature and her creatures, especially the dangers of caterpillars.
Many of these creatures can be venomous, and really should not be touched at all, even if it is out of admiration.
Unfortunately for this 7-year-old boy, he had to learn this lesson the hard way.
Thankfully for the rest of us, his story has since been shared so that we may wisen up and avoid a similar fate.
Wyatt McCaskill’s lesson was thankfully non-fatal, but it nevertheless ended up with him landing in the hospital.
The boy was playing in a field on a day out when he spotted what appeared to be a cute, furry caterpillar on a leaf.
His natural curiosity overtook him and he proceeded to pick up the creature for closer examination, an action which instantly proved to be a mistake.
Touching the caterpillar inflicted pain on the boy’s hands, making him drop the bug out of surprise and hurt.
In minutes, the pain spread rapidly to his chest as well. Kelli McCaskill, the child’s mother, could not identify the caterpillar, but upon seeing her son in such extreme pain she immediately rushed him to the hospital.
They were soon to learn that cute, furry caterpillar that had sent Wyatt to the hospital was a larva of the Southern Flannel Moth (Megalopyge opercularis), native to the southeastern part of the U.S.
It is commonly found in states from North Carolina to Florida, but has also been found in some parts of Central America and in Mexico.
It is most active from July until November and generally lives in trees.
It is famously known as the puss moth due to the way its long fur-like setae that cover its tiny body resembles the fur of a Persian cat.
Because of its similar appearance, it is also called the Trump caterpillar.
Less hilariously, it is also known as the Asp caterpillar as a result of the nasty, venomous sting it delivers upon being touched.
This is because each strange of what appears to be fur is actually a spine that breaks off and embeds itself in the skin upon touch.
Once the pieces are stuck, it delivers a painful venom which causes intense throbbing pain.
This pain can either be localized or, as Wyatt has found, can spread to other parts of the body within minutes.
In severe cases, this pain can be accompanied by other symptoms such as local swelling, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Some have even reported difficulty breathing as well.
Doctors have advised that victims of this caterpillar should attempt to remove as much of the spine as possible with tape, then wash the affected area with soap and water.
Should more severe symptoms arise, the patient should be sent to the hospital immediately.
Luckily for Wyatt, the venom of the puss moth is not fatal to humans.
After a few days of pain, he should make a quick recovery!