What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Killer catepillar
Any idea what this nasty little critter is? My husband brushed up against these while trimming a tree in our yard on the beach in Mexico. Sent him to emergency room. He said it hurt worse than when he ran over his foot with lawnmower. In severe pain for nearly 48 hours. Thanks for the help.
Diane & Mike Prewett
Darien, GA
Chicxulub, Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico

Hi Diane and Mike,
There are several U.S. sites devoted to stinging caterpillars. We do not recognize your Mexican species, but will try to research a more definite answer.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

6 Responses to Mexican Stinging Caterpillar

  1. cdnhorse says:

    Hi, it is now 2009 and I am wondering if anyone ever ended up identifying this nasty furry caterpillar shown here. I too have just had an awful encounter with one of these, also in in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. It dropped out of a tree and stung me on the leg, but the systemic effects of the sting were horrible (incredible muscle spasms, abdominal pain and intense nausea) such that I also ended up in the emergency room. Have looked on the internet to try to find out what it was, but have also been unsuccessful in determining this. Any entomologists out there looking for a challenge??? Would sure love to know what this nasty little bug was…

  2. rrinehart says:

    I too happened to be stung by this nasty little fellow last week. It apparently is a flannel moth catepillar. I was on Isla Mujeres and the locals have a name for it but I cant find that anywhere. The doctor I eventually summoned says the toxin is sort of a neurotoxin. My pain was excrutiating and went from my hand up into my chest. I responded to injections of steroids and narcotics which lessened my pain to about 8 hours not counting the subsequent 10 hours of nausea and vomiting. Without treatment I guess it lasts a day or two!

    The developing new park area Garrafon on Isla Mujeres is crawling with these and there are no warning signs. Unfortunately many more tourists will likely do as I did and pick one up to look at it.

  3. rrinehart says:

    Due to my science (MD)background and stinging memory of the recent event, I actually dug up a bit more info on the flannel moth catepillar. The genus and species that stung me is Megalopyge lunata. Its inviting bristles are called setae and break off in the skin releasing the “toxins”. There isnt just one chemical but many have been identified such as proteolytic enzymes, plasminogen activators, histamine, serine esterase, etc. Many of these are inflammatory mediators and thus respond to steroids or even anti histamines. If traveling allergy meds such as loratidine or benedryl and/or stomach meds like ranitidine could prove helpful if a doctor is not available. While there have been life or limb threatening reports from stings, over 90% mainly have intense pain out of proportion to clinical findings.

    • Lauryn says:

      My infant son just stepped on one in the yucatan this afternoon. Could you tell me where you found your info. I cannot find any info.

      • bugman says:

        This is a very old posting, but we believe this is a Mexican Flannel Moth Caterpillar in the genus Megalopyge. You can try following these links to additional postings on our site that have citations that link out to websites where we did research. Try looking at this posting or this posting.

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