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 whatsthatbug.com 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: http://neuro.bcm.edu/eagleman/asp you can find their full study in pdf form on this page.
first aid and extermination info: http://www.bugsinthenews.com/First%20Aid%20for%20Puss%20Caterpillar%20Stings.htm
second view of the caterpillar can be seen at: http://twitpic.com/lihco