Thursday, August 8, 2019

Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar

I was reminded yesterday of a health advisory on the Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar I forwarded to friends last year.  The health advisory notice came from the Sunapee Fire Department.

We again have the annual presence of this caterpillar with its allergic reaction or rash to humans.  Below is a picture of the woolly, white caterpillar with black markings and long white hairs. 



We had a hickory tussock moth caterpillar yesterday on our front door. After posting this notice on Facebook yesterday, I received many comments in agreement to the widespread presence of the Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar.

Don't touch them if you see them! The hairs of the Hickory Tussock caterpillar, which has black tufts on its back and black spikes, can cause an allergic reaction or rash for some people who make contact with the insect. The caterpillars have microscopically barbed setae, which can cause inflammation.

Watch out for this caterpillar. It is a woolly, white caterpillar with black markings and long white hairs (see above).

Don't touch them if you see them! The hairs of the Hickory Tussock Caterpillar, which has black tufts on its back and black spikes, can cause an allergic reaction or rash for some people who make contact with the insect. The caterpillars have microscopically barbed setae, which can cause inflammation.

This caterpillar appears between June and September and munches its way through the leaves of deciduous trees (it prefers nut-bearing trees, but will settle for willow, ash, aspen, apple, oak, and even raspberry plants and corn stalks).

The caterpillar excretes a type of chemical defense upon contact (which is more 
 appropriately termed "allergenic" than "poisonous").

Most people who handle these creatures will experience a burning, nettle-type, itchy rash of mild to moderate severity, but washing the affected area with soap and water, then applying ammonia or calamine lotion and icing the area should set things to rights.

However, some people are hypersensitive to the poison and have allergic reactions to it in addition to the itchy rash, those persons are likely to experience more severe symptoms such as swelling and nausea and should seek expert medical advice as soon as possible.

To emphasize the impact of the hickory-tussock-moth-caterpillar, below is a picture of a 5-year-old who learned the hard way when he touched the insect, put it on his face and ended up with a nasty rash. 


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