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Puss Caterpillar Outbreak Could Be Here Until November

Updated: Thursday, August 7 2014, 07:52 PM CDT

One week ago KEYE TV told you about a spike hospital visits due to the sting of a puss caterpillar, also called an asp. Now another victim from Georgetown shares her story, and KEYE TV's Ashley Roberts finds out why the outbreak is happening and how long it's here to stay.

Nicole Meneses was checking on some baby birds in her back yard last Friday, when:  "I lifted up the tree branch just a little bit and I felt something poking me on my finger," she says.

She went inside to wash her hands. That's when the burning and pain kicked in. "So, I came back out here to see if I could find anything in the tree," Meneses says.

And she did -- a furry caterpillar called an asp or puss caterpillar. Her pain got so bad she had to go to the emergency room like many other Central Texans.

"And it was by far the worst pain I'd ever felt in my life," says Meneses. 

Texas entomologist Mike Quinn says an outbreak like this is often due to increased rainfall.

"Different species, different years, you know, have a population explosion. A very common phenomenon," says Quinn.  

And Quinn says asps have a much longer larvae stage than other caterpillars -- six weeks instead of two which gives more time for people to cross their paths.

Medical experts say that if you do get stung you can use packaging tape to actually rip the spines out of your skin. Follow that up with a baking soda paste, and then use ice to decrease any pain and swelling that you might have. If these symptoms don't go away, you should definitely seek medical attention.

"I feel better now," says Meneses.

She finally feels like herself again, but warns others, along with Quinn, to especially be wary around trees.

"Use caution," says Quinn.

He says these could be around until early November.

By Ashley Roberts

Puss Caterpillar Outbreak Could Be Here Until November

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