Stinging buck moth caterpillars active in Louisiana, Mississippi

It’s stinging caterpillar season in Mississippi and Louisiana: the spiny buck moth caterpillars are out and about.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service put out a statement Tuesday about buck moth caterpillars, which the LSU AgCenter says can be found from east Texas to Florida and up the East Coast to Maine.

They’re fearsome-looking critters, armed with rows of branched spines that are attached to venom glands. Even a glancing touch from a falling caterpillar brings instant pain and swelling.

The irritation is caused by fluid released from the caterpillar’s spines, which puncture the skin and let the irritating venom enter. The result is a swollen, red, burning area, according to the LSU AgCenter.

Mississippi extension service entomologist Blake Layton says the best defense is to know about the caterpillars and avoid close contact.

A caterpillar sting can be very serious to those individuals who are allergic to insect venom. Those who are highly allergic to insect bites or stings should seek immediate medical attention if stung by a caterpillar.