NEW ORLEANS - We've all seen them, and unfortunately some have a story to tell about them. We are in the season of Buck Moth Caterpillars, which means you might need a quick refresher on what to do if stung by one.
They're a familiar sight in New Orleans, so most know these pesky creatures are not to be messed with.
"I'm not scared of them but I see them and try and stay away from them," said 12-year-old Landon.
These little guys look furry and cute, but their sting can pack a punch. The caterpillar's skin is covered with spines attached to venom glands, so when they penetrate the skin, it can sting you causing a rash, pain, itching, redness and swelling.
We asked Landon, who says he's been stung twice, how much it hurt. On a scale of 1-10, he said about a 9.
"Yeah, they're kind of cute until they sting you," said Becky Slatten. "I felt it and I looked down and it was on me and I screamed and brushed it off."
Anna Haber's daughter was barely a year old when stung.
"She was climbing and she suddenly screamed and then when we came home, we saw it must've climbed up the leg close to her diaper," she remembers. "It was red and looked like four little dots. We iced it and we put aloe on it to cool it. We treated it like a sting."
Which is what Dr. Denise Kerut, with Children's Pediatrics River Ridge Clinic, says people should do. The sting, she says, is similar to that of a bee sting. She says first people should remove the caterpillar and stingers with something other than bare hands.
"If there are any hairs left on the skin, you can take some scotch tape and apply it on there and pull it off," she said. "And apply with a fresh piece to get them all off."
She adds you'll want to then rinse the area and put a homemade mixture.
"If it's really hurting, apply a paste of baking soda and water and keep applying some cool wet cloths to make it better," she said.
You can then try a hydrocortisone cream. If the sting is severe, you can take Benadryl or Ibuprofen. Some say though, the best treatment is avoidance, which those who've been stung agree with. And come Spring, they always keep an extra eye out, and encourage others do the same.
"Don't mess with them," said Landon. "They're like really painful. It only stung for a few days but it was just really irritating."