Poisonous Caterpillars Found in Idaho
When you go camping or hiking in the Gem State, what bugs are you most scared of?
Bees? Wasps? Horse Flies? Spiders? All of those answers are totally understandable. Especially the bees. A bee sting led to Nate being able to say "I told you so" for the first time as my husband on our honeymoon. The very first full day we were in Tamarack, he looked me dead in the eyes before I headed out for my run and said "are you taking your phone?" I said "No, it's only six miles and I don't want to carry my water pack for that. I'll be fine without it." Famous last words. At mile three a bee got stuck in my shirt and stung me repeatedly. Luckily, I'm not allergic...but when I pulled up my shirt and saw red lines spreading across what looked like my veins, I panicked little thinking that it wasn't a bee. Maybe it was something I was allergic to. OMG, this is how I die on a long abandoned golf cart path where no one knows where I'm at...or maybe I overreacted. It was a bee. I was fine.
But you know what bug doesn't seem all that scary? A caterpillar. In fact your kids might love caterpillars and don't mind picking them up. Unfortunately, if they get too up close and personal with a caterpillar that will one day blossom into a Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth, they could end up with a pretty serious allergic reaction. According to the part of US Forest Service that oversees the Boise National Forest, there's an outbreak of these fuzzy little guys around the Sage Hen Reservoir outside Smiths Ferry. When their log bristly hair comes touches human skin, that's considered a caterpillar "sting" that could develop into rashes, itching, burning, swelling or blistering.
The Douglas-Fir Tussock Moths have a population outbreak every three to four years and can lead to the death of Douglas-Fir trees because they feed on their needles. Several Idahoans say they've had their Huckleberry picking trips ruined by these caterpillars. They've also been spotted in McCall, Cascade and New Meadows. They're expected to be in the caterpillar stage for the next few weeks.
So what happens if you find one of these little guys crawling on you? According to the National Capital Poison Center you need to remove them without using your hands. Use a piece of tape to remove the hairs from your skin and repeat until all of the hairs have been removed from the skin. Wash the affected area with soap and water. If a rash or itching occurs, coat it with a paste of soda and water. If that doesn't work, you can try a hydrocortisone cream or antihistamine cream. Should the skin blister, contact a doctor as soon as possible.