The pussy moth caterpillar, the asp,the flannel moth caterpillar resembles a colored ball of cotton. It is venomous, not in the sense that it bites, but in that it is covered in fur-like spines that contain venom that can cause varying forms of distress to humans who come into contact with them. The peak months of envenomation are July through November, and symptoms of envenomation typically include burning pain, swelling, nausea, and itching.

These caterpillars pose a seasonal health hazard. Intense, throbbing pain develops immediately or within five minutes of contact with the caterpillar. Stings on the arm may also result in pain in the armpit region. Erythematous (blood- colored) spots typically appear at the site of the sting. Other symptoms can include headaches, nausea, vomiting, intense abdominal distress, lymphadenopathy, lymphadenitis, and sometimes shock or respiratory stress. Pain usually subsides within an hour and spots disappear in a day or so; however, with a larger dose of the venom, it is not uncommon for the symptoms to last several days or longer. 

Often, those envenomated by the asp caterpillar find that health care professionals have never seen nor heard of the creature; the caregivers are left with little to go on, and the victims are left with the distress of an unknown prognosis. Existing literature often involves a single case study, a self-reported envenomation, or a handful of cases. The need for better information about these caterpillars is not purely academic: at times public schools in Texas have been temporarily shut down because of outbreaks of the caterpillar, and more generally the problem of ignorance in the medical community can lead to under-treatment or mistreatment.aspcat.jpg

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