Animals

Beware of ‘Assassin Caterpillar’ Lonomia obliqua: This is the Deadliest Caterpillar in the World!

Have you ever heard of someone dying because of a caterpillar? Well, while this kind of death is not typical and reported cases have only been around 500 fatalities so far, it actually happens – and all because of Lonomia obliqua, the Giant Silkworm Moth. It is found mostly in South America.

The moth is practically harmless but its larva stage can be quiet deadly. After all, it’s not called ‘assassin caterpillar’ for no reason.

This caterpillar’s body is filled with spikes and bristles that actually act as needles to inject its venom into the victim’s body. Scientists are trying to learn more about L. obliqua’s venom but based on what they had learned so far, they realized that this little creature may just be 2 inches long but it can inject potent anti-clotting agents into the body which could lead to internal hemorrhage and death!

A cluster of assassin caterpillars By Centro de Informações Toxicológicas de Santa Catarina (http://www.cit.sc.gov.br) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A cluster of assassin caterpillars
By Centro de Informações Toxicológicas de Santa Catarina (http://www.cit.sc.gov.br) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Thankfully, you won’t die with just a few stings as only a small amount of venom is held in the spikes but if you happen to disturb a huge nest of caterpillars, you’re in for a rather nasty surprise: bad news and good news! The bad news is that you could die if that happens – thankfully, the good news is that there’s anti-venom available in Brazil for this…

 


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