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Stinging Season

bug of the day Photo by Jenn Forman Orth

Yesterday my daughter and I were sitting on the front steps playing the “game of hiding.” That’s where she grabs on to my back and I pretend I can’t find her. Then she reveals herself, and great hilarity ensues.

Only our game was interrupted when she howled in pain and pointed to her knee. Welts were rising on her tender flesh, but I couldn’t find the culprit anywhere.

A few hours later, I took off my shirt, and there was a tiny buckmoth caterpillar. The season is definitely upon us. This is the girl’s second sting in as many weeks. I signed up to have our tree sprayed by Parkway Partners at the beginning of the month, but they won’t get to us until next week.

Buckmoths thrive on live oak trees, and we have such a tree right in front of our house. They line the street, and I think they’re beautiful. My mother-in-law was of a different opinion. There’s no accounting for aesthetic differences. After the rain of pollen and the advent of the stinging caterpillars and the way their roots break up the sidewalk, I have to admit these trees have a dark side. But in some twisted way that makes them even more appealing.

At least this sting wasn’t followed by a fall like last year.

Published inEcologyNew Orleans


  1. Leaving my name off this one Leaving my name off this one

    Ah, caterpillar time in New Orleans. I sat on one of those suckers when I was in college at Tulane. Luckily I was already somewhat anesthetized when it happened. But still, OUCH!

  2. rickngentilly rickngentilly

    hey man, i dont know if they still make it the same way,but when i was a kid the meat tenderizer accent had papain (sp?).

    it’s an enzyme from papaya.

    my dad lived in south florida and when me and my brother went to visit him in the summer that was allways in the kit for jellyfish stings at the beach.

    it worked like a charm.

  3. Robyn Robyn

    Hahaha. I didn’t realize I was still anonymous. I’ll happily claim my own stupidity in sitting on a caterpillar while in college. It was not one of my finer moments, but it was still a good one.

  4. Poor baby! That really hurts. Neither one of my kids has been stung yet, but this is the time of year when I start getting really neurotic about playing outside (sigh).

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