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Allergy to Gypsy moth caterpillars

Posted by mudlady Syracuse-z5 (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 12, 11 at 13:53

I haven't posted here for ages, but I have a question now. I recently went through Hell with an itchy rash that defied doctors' understanding. It began on June 1 and finally stopped by July 3rd. I had this June, for the first time I have lived at my current address, a terrible infestation of Gypsy moth caterpillars. I first noticed them when a huge row of mature rosa rugosa (beach roses) suddenly became almost void of leaves. A near by Crimson King Maple also was affected. I took pictures of the caterpillars and sent them to my son, an agricultural biologist for Santa Barbara County in CA. He said either gypsy moth or tent caterpillars. I gathered some of the bugs into a zip lock bag and took them to a local nursery where I was told they were definitely Gypsy moth caterpillars. I used Sevin and they died almost immediately. About a week later I discovered a huge nest in the dirt under a Purple Plum tree. I used Sevin again and I haven't seen any more bugs. I became curious about the length of time the caterpillars would be active, before pupating. I learned that they were present from mid May to mid July. As I read about the damage these bugs caused I came across references to the fact that these caterpillars caused terrible rashes and itching in sensitive people. Their fine hairs contain allergens/poison on the tips in order to defend them from predators. The tips of the hairs can become airborne and cause itching in people even though they don't actually touch the caterpillars. A giant bell went off in my head and my itching finally made sense. My medical doctor, my allergist and my dermatologist (he even biopsied one of the spots) all hadn't heard of the trouble Gypsy moth caterpillars can cause sensitive people. It all fell into place for me. The life span is mid May to mid July and my symptoms began on June 1 and ended ob July 3, after I had killed all the caterpillars in my yard! Has anyone on this forum ever had a similar problem? My life was total misery for over a month and I might never have learned the cause if I hadn't decided to identify the caterpillars that were killing my beach roses.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Allergy to Gypsy moth caterpillars

Never heard of that before, will keep it in mind.

I get poison ivy rashes every year :-(

Also any plants with a milky latex sap can cause rashes, especially euphorbia myrsinites (donkeytail spurge) for those who are sensitive.

hope you don't have them next year!

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