Woman wanted to rip off her own arm after toxic caterpillar sting

Cheryl Andrews was stung by spikes from brown tail moth caterpillars in Kent

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Brown-tail Moth Euproctis chrysorrhoea Caterpillar

A woman from Kent was stung so badly by a toxic caterpillar that she wanted to rip off her own arm.

Cheryl Andrews, 50, was left with chronic skin irritation after the spikes from brown tail moth caterpillars penetrated her skin at her house in Erith, Bexley.

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Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said: "It started with just one or two and now more and more are coming into the house.

"My husband killed about 15 of them off the fence in the garden. They're all nasty little things.

"The hairs come off the caterpillars and they found its way on to me and that's when my arm started to itch.

"I could've ripped my arm off because of the itch."

Pest control experts say that the creepy crawlies should be burned.

"We've been told the two trees are going to be cut down and incinerated - I just don't know who's going to go up there - apparently there are 2,000 of them in one cocoon," Cheryl told the Daily Mirror.

According to Wealden District Council, brown tail moth caterpillars are active in spring and "expand the area of defoliation around their winter tents during May so that by June the caterpillars have moved away from the tents and become solitary."

They vary between 7mm and 38mm in length, and are dark brown in colour with a distinctive white line down each side. The whole body is covered in tufts of brown hairs and two distinct orange/red dots are noticeable on the caterpillars back towards the tail.

Their spiked and barbed hairs, which can penetrate skin, cause an irritant reaction. Asthmatics and hay fever sufferers take caution as when inhaled, the hairs may cause breathing difficulties.

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