Campus health alert: Beware of asp caterpillars

Students, faculty and staff should avoid touching or picking up asp caterpillars.

Asp caterpillar image courtesy TAMU AgriLife Extension

This warning comes as a result of Student Health Services and Rice EMS treating a large number of people with asp caterpillar stings in the past week.

Asp caterpillars are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long and appear fuzzy with yellowish-brown to reddish-brown fur. They live primarily in trees and bushes. Their “fur” contains poisonous spines that sting on contact.

If you are stung by a caterpillar, you should do the following:

  • Rinse the area of skin with soap and water.
  • Use tape to remove any remaining hairs.
  • Apply ice to the area.
  • Take an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl.
  • Use topical hydrocortisone.

If these steps do not help or if you experience more severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath or swelling, seek medical care through Rice EMS or Health Services. If you have a history of allergic reactions to insects, seek care immediately.

Rice EMS is available at 713-348-6000; Student Health Services is available at 713-348-4966.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.