Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who knows what evil lurks in the garden

Background: Last Friday my Labrador wouldn't eat.  Now, for some dogs that might not be strange, but my lab?  It just doesn't happen.  I figured maybe he had a tummy ache and I've learned not to panic unless they aren't drinking water, which he was. I went about my business and later on when I returned home he was still out of sorts, but had eaten.  When I let him out he had terrible diarrhea and apparently he had thrown up out in the yard in the morning.  I put him on a diet of solid packed pumpkin (comes in a can) and monitored him.  It was a slow go, but he was improving.
Monday:  I was walking around the yard with the camera and noticed what I thought was some sort of cocoon.  I approached and took the above photo, headed in to the computer and went to my favorite place to find out what bugs are.  I punched in "white hairy caterpillar" as my search term and found a similar cat which was listed as Megalopyge opercularis aka Puss or Asp Caterpillar.  I did some web searches and found out that it is "one of the most toxic caterpillars in North America".
A review of data from the following website showed a list of symptoms which sounded amazingly like what Blizzard had been going through.  I remembered that he had been in the brush close to the wax myrtle where I found the caterpillar.  My conclusion?  He was stung.  The information I have found stated that there are usually no ill affects after 5 days and sure enough, Blizzard was his old self by Tuesday, jumping and looking for his food.  I found another two of those caterpillars on the same bush and all three are now safely drowned in soapy water as was suggested as a way to exterminate them.
cites:  symptoms:  you can find their full study in pdf form on this page.
second view of the caterpillar can be seen at:

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