Monday, September 24, 2012

Fuzzy Bugs, Armpit Pain, and a Happy Ending

Friday afternoon I was sitting out on our front stoop waiting on Ross to get home from work. It was a super sunny, yet cool afternoon- perfect Fall weather.  As I was sitting and waiting, I noticed a little critter crawling towards me. He was about 2inches long, shaped like a slug, yet fuzzy… hairy even…. like a little mammal.  I watched as he scooted across the patio, moving quite fast for a little guy of his size.
And of course I took his picture!
 Being the nature lover I am, I was afraid if he stayed on our front step he would get trampled by Eisley’s paws or squished by a bicycle tire, so I scooped him up onto a dried leaf and set him in the pine straw next to our porch- that way I could still watch him. 

After a few minutes curiosity got the better of me, and I called Ross to tell him about my little find and to see if he perhaps knew of any furry bugs. A wooly worm was his suggestion.  Now I know wooly worms (I LOVE them) and this was NOT a wooly worm. Ross promised he would be home in a couple of minutes and we would investigate together.

So, I sat and watched as my little “friend” quickly made his way up onto the porch again, and this time I just let him crawl around next to me.  But, I didn’t get too close… he looked like a Little Monster. And so, I named him that.
Isn't he a cutie?!
 When Ross got home I showed him my new buddy and he had the same reaction as me…. “WHAT IS THAT?!” We did what all modern day Americans do when they have a question (ran to our computers) and started Googling for our answer.  After searching “furry slug,” “hairy bugs,” “slug with hair,” and “mammal-looking bug” I found it.  A Woolly Slug also known as a Puss Caterpillar.  I was so excited to have a name for my little critter I decided to do some research on him.

“The Puss caterpillar, or Woolly Slug, is the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States. Its poison is hidden in hollow spines among its hairs.”

At that point I started to get concerned.

The toxin usually, but not always, produces an immediate onset of excruciating, unrelenting pain, radiating to the lymph nodes in the armpit or groin, and then to the chest.”

At this point, I decided Little Monster and I couldn’t be friends any more.  Friends don’t cause friends excruciating pain.

So with adult supervision (Ross stood just close enough that he could watch and not touch), I again scooped up Little Monster with a leaf (this time much more carefully as not to touch him), and carried him over to the patio of the vacant apartment next to ours.  I decided that if he was determined to live on a patio, it had better not be mine.

So I walked away unharmed and I am sure Little Monster is a few feet away living happily ever after.  Morale of the story? Don’t touch really cute fuzzy bugs… you never know when it will cause pain in your armpit.

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