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5-Year-Old Hospitalized After Sting From "Most Poisonous Caterpillar" In The U.S.

Lauren Chambers/Judy Gallagher

The saying "don't judge a book by its cover" apparently applies to caterpillars too.

These tiny and sometimes fuzzy creatures can appear cute, but don't let that fool you into touching them.

Five-year-old Adrie from Texas just learned about the dangers of coming into contact with certain types of caterpillars in the most painful way, and her mother, Lauren Chambers, is sharing the story to make sure other parents don't go through the same thing.  

Last week, Adrie was playing outside of her daycare when she was stung by what the staff identified as a Southern flannel moth caterpillar. They're usually found in Texas, New Jersey, Florida and Arkansas.

Also known as the furry puss or tree asp, this species is considered one of the most venomous caterpillars in the United States.

The hair on the insect resembles that of a feline, but they're actually hiding tiny spines that cause a poisonous sting that is so painful it can make your bones hurt.

Adrie started experiencing symptoms right away, including swelling and an upset stomach, so the daycare workers didn't hesitate to contact her mother, so she could be transported to a hospital.

The young girl told NBC Chicago that she felt a burning sensation on the arm where the caterpillar landed, but thanks to the staff's fast action, they were able to remove the stingers using tape so the pain wouldn't intensify.

Lauren Chambers and Adrie
Lauren Chambers and AdrieLauren Chambers/Facebook

Adrie is very lucky because the pain could've lasted "for up to 12 hours," according to Michael Merchant, an entomologist at Texas A&M University.

Doctors also told Chambers that because her daughter is so young and small, the sting would've eventually caused her body to go numb and shut down.

"Different people react in different ways, feeling pain in different parts of the body. I had one friend who actually felt like he was having some heart trouble or something after he got stung. So it's not a pleasant experience," said Merchant.

Chambers expressed her disbelief over the fact that venomous caterpillars exist in Texas and that they're able to badly harm a person.

"How does that happen? We have those here in Texas?" she asked. "I mean I never even heard of those before yesterday."

Don't let this cute critter fool you. The Southern Flannel Moth caterpillar (puss caterpillar) is one of the most...

Posted by City of Wilmington Parks & Recreation on Monday, September 25, 2017

This isn't the first time that this type of caterpillar has made the news for stinging a person. In June, a Florida teenager had to be rushed to the hospital after he got stung by an adult furry puss while doing landscaping work.

"Within 5 minutes he was dizzy, had lost color, was complaining of the worst pain he had ever felt & his eyes weren't super focused," Andrea Pergola, the boy's mom, wrote on Facebook. "We tried to wash it off... He just looked really, really bad and kept looking worse."

Like Chambers, the Pergolas also had no idea these types of caterpillars are out there and told their story to the public to raise awareness.

"We are native Floridians. We are outside all the time, camping, outside, in the woods. We had no idea this was out there," Pregola said. "I would just hate for a small child to pick this up. Logan is healthy and weighs 100 pounds. I know this would hurt a small child even worse than my 15-year-old son."

While you should always be on the lookout for these caterpillars, you won't have to worry about them in a couple of weeks when they head into their cocoons. Once they turn into moths, the poisonous stingers will be gone and they will be harmless.

Have you ever been stung by a caterpillar?

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.