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Teenager Rushed to ER After Terrifying Encounter with Venomous Caterpillar

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Snakes and spiders and scorpions — oh my! The world is filled with scary critters looking to bite and sting, but we pretty much know what they are and how to avoid them, right?

Well, if the experience of Land O’ Lakes, Florida, teen Logan Pergola is any indication, there are bizarre creatures out there that can harm us in ways we never expected. Logan was working outside his family’s home on June 16, picking up fallen branches.

In the process, he brushed up against an oak tree and felt a mild stinging sensation. A strange little caterpillar that looked like nothing more than an ambulatory mop of wild hair was sitting on his arm.


“It just hurt like a small scratch,” Logan told Bay News 9. “Then all of the sudden, my arm went numb and I felt a burning pain.”

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Logan had encountered a southern flannel moth, a type of caterpillar found throughout the continental United States. It’s known by a number of less than complimentary nicknames, including asp caterpillars, tree asps, and puss caterpillars.

Though they look funny, southern flannel moths don’t just sport their unruly manes for show. The individual hairs serve as a defense mechanism by breaking off and causing itching.

They also conceal spines connected to venom glands, and the toxin they deliver is what nearly floored Logan. “Within 20 minutes, I was having a hard time standing,” the teen admitted.

Dr. Justin Schmidt — a scientist who exposed himself to stings from ants, hornets, yellowjackets, and other delightful insects in order to create the Schmidt Sting Pain Index — has stated that the agony of a caterpillar sting lasts longer than those of the majority of bees or wasps. University of Florida medical etymologist Dr. Donald Hill said that “the pain is a deep, aching pain.”

“It feels like it goes all the way to the bone. If you get stung on the finger, the pain radiates up the arm,” Hill said.


That sounds about like what Logan experienced. His mother rushed him to the hospital where doctors administered fluids and medications intravenously.

The teen soon recovered and plans to exercise a bit more caution the next time he does yard work. “I think I’m going to be a little more careful around trees and bugs,” he said.

Fortunately, southern flannel moths don’t actually kill people, although stung individuals may find themselves preoccupied with the end of all flesh for a few hours.

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So if you see something that looks like a tiny crawling toupee next time you’re out in your yard, take Logan’s advice and stay well enough away!

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
Education
Wheaton College
Location
Florida
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith, Travel




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