Subject: ugly, painful rash from a cocoon
Location: Nitro, WV
November 14, 2012 11:55 am
Two nights ago i tried on an old pair of pants that i kept in my basement closet. when i put them on i felt sting in my thigh that felt like a splinter and as i walked toward my mirror i felt a whole bunch of those stings so i ripped the pants off thinking there were bees in my pants or something. I immediately had a burning itchy rash all over my thigh. i looked in my pants to see if there were any bugs but all i noticed was group of small fibers that i thought maybe somehow my cat brought in stinging nettle hairs. Then this morning i noticed the cocoon in the floor where i tried the pants and realized that is what it was. I still have a rash 2 days later and its miserably itchy. I am curious to know what the cocoon is and how to make sure i get this insect far away from my house. Thank!
Signature: Lisa [Ed. Note: Name withheld upon request]
Our first instinct is that this is the Cocoon of a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae. We didn’t search for an exact match, and though the color is wrong, this image from BugGuide shows the general form or cocoons in the subfamily. We didn’t realize that Woolly Bears as the Arctiinae caterpillars are commonly called, had utricating hairs. We have not noticed Woolly Bears in lists of stinging caterpillars we have linked to in the past. The Ark in Space website is especially nice. We wondered if perhaps this might be the cocoon of an Asp, but this image from BugGuidelooks very different.
We will continue to research this matter to see if we can learn anything about the identity of the cocoon that gave you a rash.