PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - A Florida woman is warning others after she said she was stung by a poisonous caterpillar at a park in Port St. Lucie.
Tara Forbes told WPTV she was sitting on a park bench watching her son at a playground when she felt an “excruciating” burning sensation on her arm.
“My arm was out on the bench, I thought maybe I was getting a little sunburn,” Forbes told WPTV. “I looked down and I had black and white fuzz here, and white fuzz on the inside. It just immediately felt like fire, like somebody took a flame to my skin.”
She said her arm completely swelled up and became dizzy and nauseated.
Forbes believes she was stung by a puss caterpillar, which are often found in oaks and citrus trees in Florida.
A spokesperson for Port St. Lucie said officials searched the park. No poisonous caterpillars were found, but crews are expected to go back out and search the park again on Tuesday.
According to the Florida Poison Information Center, puss caterpillars, also known as southern moss caterpillars, can grow up to an inch long and are covered in gray or brown hair.
Under the hair are stiff spines attached to poisonous glands that can cause severe pain that sometimes requires medical attention.
Others experience an itching or burning sensation, poison control officials said.
To get rid of the poison, health experts said people should apply sticky tape to the affected area to remove the caterpillar’s spines.
To help with the stinging sensation, experts advise applying ice packs to the area and following up with a paste of baking soda and water.
If the sting triggers an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.
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