Girl stung by American dagger moth caterpillar at Cabin John Regional Park

With many indoor activities closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, people are spending more time outdoors, and apparently, encountering creatures they aren’t so familiar with. 

Eliza Gravely, 7, was stung by an American dagger moth caterpillar. It’s a yellow fuzzy caterpillar with tufts of black hair. She was near the playground at Cabin John Regional Park in Rockville, Maryland, last Wednesday when she picked it up. 

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Entomologist Floyd Shockley with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History tells FOX 5 the caterpillar’s “microscopic spines and bristles can get embedded into a human’s skin.” They contain a poisonous toxin. 

He says just like the venomous puss caterpillars recently spotted in Virginia, American dagger moth caterpillars are active in our region this time of year. 

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Eliza’s mother, Elizabeth Gravely, says her daughter was covered in hives, her hands were swollen and five days later she still has an itchy rash all over her upper body. 

“Nobody I’ve talked to including the pediatrician’s office had heard of this,” says Gravely. 

READ MORE: Venomous puss caterpillar sightings in Virginia trigger warning from forestry department

According to Shockley, the rash can be quite severe but Eliza should be just fine in a few days. 

He says to keep in mind that brightly colored creatures are often venomous. 

If you do come into contact with an American dagger moth caterpillar you can try to remove the bristles with tape before washing the area with cool water.