New Orleans braces for stinging caterpillar season

Apr 22, 2010, 14:22 PM by User Not Found

NEW ORLEANS, La. — An insect expert says New Orleans can expect a return of an annual problem in about three weeks: the spring invasion of stinging buck moth caterpillars.

The caterpillars live in — and drop from — the city’s sprawling live oak trees, and anyone who touches one is in for some pain. The caterpillar’s spines are hollow and are connected to poison glands. Contact with the spines can cause a burning sensation and inflammation as painful as a bee sting. The irritation can last several days and, for some people, can be accompanied by nausea.

Cooler-than-normal temperatures have delayed the onslaught so far. However, entomologist Steve Sackett says the stinging pests should begin falling in droves in about three weeks.