They may look cute and cuddly to your preschooler but BEWARE of the wicked-painful sting of the tree asp in October.
KATY MAGAZINE NEWS - Katy, TX
October 17, 2017
The month of October is prime stinging season for these quiet but seriously nasty little creatures in Katy, Texas.
What are they?
Tree asps, like most stinging caterpillars, belong to the family of flannel moths - in this case - the Southern Flannel Moth. They're tricky to spot - lots are only about the size of a quarter. The ones you'll see around here are teardrop shaped, and their hair resembles cotton or fur that's gray to reddish brown and more mature asps have wings.
What to look for
In the immature stages (pictured above), a tree asp is covered in fine hairs and spines packed with venom that produce an extremely painful rash or sting. In particular, the caterpillars local to Katy like to hang around:
- in the shade of trees and under leaves
- on playground equipment
- on and under patio furniture.
And what's worse, their hairs stick into the skin leaving a horrible burning sensation and rash. Yikes.
How to avoid them We all know kids love jumping out of bushes to give us a scare this time of year, but avoid hanging out in the shrubbery and doing things like climbing at all costs right now. Also, avoid going anywhere barefoot, and if you have little ones on the playground, just do a quick check of the equipment to make sure there are no creepy tree asps hiding somewhere unseen.
If you get stung Katy reader Janelle W. says the secret is removing the stingers as soon as possible, "Use Scotch tape to pull them out, and then ice it down right away," she says. Some websites also recommend oral antihistamines to reduce swelling and itching, but for further medical treatment and severe reactions like uncontrolled rashes and difficulty breathing, you should always contact a doctor immediately.