The Texas Asp is something to be aware of, a cute, snugly, furry caterpillar that only needs to be touched in order to get a nasty sting. The caterpillar may look furry but this hides sharp, tiny spines that can stick into your skin.
The sting delivers a severe burst of burning, radiating pain. This radiating pain does not occur with other insect stings so is a clear sign that you have been stung by an Asp. It can feel like a bee sting but worse, people have also compared it to a scorpion sting or a jellyfish sting. The pain rapidly escalates and can even make your bones hurt. The sting can also result in a sudden loss of blood pressure, seizures and vomiting. Contact with the asp caterpillar can be fatal to anyone allergic to insect venom as it can send you into anaphylactic shock.
If you are unfortunate enough to be stung or see someone suffering from the sting then act fast, try to remove the thin hairs from the skin using scotch tape, by gently pressing and then lifting. Ice packs can be used to assist in reducing the pain and swelling. Antihistamines such as Cortizone 10, Claritin or Benadryl can also help with any itching or swelling. Call for medical assistance if there is any fever, swelling of the throat or abdominal pain.
Watch out when moving aside tree branches as the asp caterpillar could be attached to the branch. Always look before you reach and avoid brushing against trees or plants. it is best to wear long pants, sleeves and gloves in areas with this type of vegetation. They are common on a lot of Texas plants, from rose bushes to oak trees. The Puss Caterpillar can be camouflaged on tree bark, so do not lean on trees. The Asps appear during the summer and will dissipate as the weather starts to cool ahead of winter.
You should also keep an eye on any play equipment that your children use, as contact can occur on slides or in playgrounds. Spraying any equipment with water prior to use can help prevent this from happening.
This caterpillar has many names, in addition to the Asp and the Puss caterpillar it is also known as the
They are between an inch and an inch and a half in length. The fur may range in color from bright orange to gray, rusty, brown or white.
The asp caterpillar turns into the non venomous Southern Flannel Moth. This is a yellow or orange moth with black, furry feet.
Despite the danger that can be posed by the Texas Asp it is important to understand that the sting is only used for defense, they will never try to find and attack humans. If you do not brush against it or pick it up... you will not be stung.