New Orleans Residents Will Soon Face The Dreaded Annual Emergence Of This Potentially Painful Caterpillar Pest

It would be an understatement to say that New Orleans is home to several nuisance insect pest species. The city’s hot and humid climate along with the wet landscape makes New Orleans a breeding ground for several non-native insect pest species that originate from exotic locations ranging from Asia to South America. For example, the most destructive termite species in the world, the Formosan subterranean termite, has established numerous permanent colonies within the city. In The US, half of the money spent each year on Formosan termite control and damage repairs originates from just New Orleans alone. The rate of mosquito-borne disease cases is particularly high in the state, and several other flying insects in the region, such as numerous diptera fly species, can inflict bites that lead to scar-tissue formation. It is also worth mentioning that the city is home to four potentially dangerous and venomous caterpillar species. The most threatening of these caterpillar species is known commonly as the Buck moth caterpillar.

New Orleans is notable for the many picturesque oak trees that stand within people’s yards and line the city’s streets. A large park in the city, City Park, contains more than 30,000 oak trees, making this park the pride and joy of residents. Unfortunately, caterpillars that possess venomous urticating hairs rain down from these trees every spring, causing significant worry and distress among residents. Once these caterpillars hit the ground, they pupate and disperse. These caterpillars are so numerous that residents often step on one or more of them while walking barefoot within their lawns. The caterpillars often land on people as they are falling from trees, which also leads to numerous envenomation cases. Once the urticating hairs on these caterpillars penetrate human skin, an intense pain is immediately felt. All New Orleans residents have at least one personal story concerning Buck moth caterpillar stings. These stings can lead to severe and sometimes life-threatening allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Spraying trees with insecticides before the caterpillars pupate works well to prevent Buck moth caterpillar populations from becoming unmanageably large during the warmer months.

Have you ever sustained a sting from a Buck moth caterpillar?




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