Puss Caterpillar Stings

Topic Overview

The puss caterpillar, or woolly slug, is the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States. Its poison is hidden in hollow spines among its hairs. This hairy caterpillar is found in the southern states, ranging west through most of Texas and north to Maryland and Missouri. It feeds on shade trees such as elm, oak, and sycamore. Puss caterpillars vary in size from 32 mm (1.2 in.) to 36 mm (1.4 in.).

Symptoms of puss caterpillar contact may include:

  • Immediate, intense pain that often comes in waves.
  • A swelling, itching rash of red blotches and raised ridges.
  • Restlessness and anxiety.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Swollen glands.
  • Symptoms of shock.

If you come into contact with a puss caterpillar, remove the broken-off spines by using cellophane tape or a commercial facial peel, and call your doctor.

Credits

Current as of: June 26, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

Thanks to our partners and endorsers: