Be safe out there!

This morning, our Pasco Master Gardener Trainee Class was visited by a guest lecturer, BJ Jarvis. BJ is CED and Horticulture Agent in Citrus County. This morning, as she was searching for teaching props in her yard, she was hit with a stunning pain on her palm. By the time she arrived to teach the class, her wrist was swollen and painfully red. After a few hours, distinctive signs of a puss caterpillar sting began to show. Painful stings like this are common in late spring in Central Florida. The puss caterpillar doesn’t look like you’re typical caterpillar as it’s very hairy (those hairs have spines!) and they love to hang out in oak trees – dropping by accident onto unsuspecting victims or lurking under a bench or on plants where they hide so well. Obviously, they aren’t out to get you, but by design, they are trying to protect themselves with those spines. When we come in brief contact, there is searing pain that can last for days to weeks and will certainly leave a mark. Some individuals (especially children) can be hyper allergic to the stings, so medical attention may be required. There’s not much you can do to help once you’ve been stung but do your best to resist smashing the caterpillar into your skin… you’ll simply insert more spines. Use scotch tape repeatedly to try to extract the spines. A visit to the doctor might be necessary as well. These are painful but avoidable with a careful eye. Check out the puss caterpillar below and be safe out there! W. Elmore
Photograph by Donald W. Hall, University of Florida.

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