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Stinging buck moth caterpillars return for spring season

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Posted at 10:27 AM, Mar 22, 2023

March through May marks not only the beginning of spring, but also the start of a more bothersome season for many residents: the stinging caterpillar.

“The buck moths favorite spot is in oak trees, where they lay eggs in a circle around small stems,” says LSU AgCenter entomologist Gregg Henderson.

Buck moth caterpillars become a nuisance to Louisianans when they fall from the oak trees in order to pupate in the soil.

Spines found on the caterpillars are linked with venom glands that occur within the caterpillar's body, LSU's College of Agriculture reports.

According to the university, pain is immediate when stung as radiation spreads to surrounding lymphatic groups followed by localized itching, swelling and redness.

Pain after contact can last over 24 hours. The college lists the following steps to help relieve pain:

  • Take antihistamines with a cold compress applied.
  • Remove urticating hairs and leftover spines using adhesive tape.
  • Wash stung area with soap and water or a sterilizing agent and allow to air dry.

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