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Mum’s Warning After Her Little Girl’s Allergic Reaction to Caterpillar

by Kloe Forster

A mum is sharing a word of warning to other parents after her little girl, Esme, suffered a severe allergic reaction to a caterpillar she found.

Donna Fry said of her little one’s experience on Facebook:

“My daughter is four years old she absolutely loves animals and insects today she made friends with a little caterpillar 🐛 she had it on her hands for a few minutes, within 10 Minutes her whole body was itching all over and her face began to swell within minutes she was unrecognisable, she was rushed to hospital by ambulance who thankfully came within minutes. The reason for my post is I had literally no idea that certain caterpillars are literally lethal, my daughter was so lucky today she received outstanding care from the NHS but things could seriously have been so different.”


Esme suffered an allergic reaction after holding the caterpillar.
Esme suffered an allergic reaction after holding the caterpillar.  Photo: Facebook/ Donna Fry

Esme’s mum, Donna, shared images on to Facebook – one of them shows the four-year-old balancing the caterpillar on her finger, while the next shows poor Esme’s face which had swelled up whilst she is laid in an ambulance after suffering an allergic reaction.

“I’m not sure why,” Ms Fry continued, “she’s held them hundreds of times.”

In the comments Donna explained that Esme’s face and mouth swelled up, after which her dad had called an ambulance.

“They gave her an injection in the ambulance and she responded well,” Donna said, saying they gave her antihistamines and steroids when they got to the hospital which also helped. Ms Fry described the experience as “bloody scary”.

Doctors explained that Esme most likely picked up a freshly hatched Oak Processionary Caterpillar, which contains an irritant in its hairs called ‘thaumetopoein’, these can irritate skin, airways and eyes in humans and animals.

Make sure you keep an eye out for these kinds of caterpillars in your garden.

What to do if you find Oak Processionary Moth Caterpilars?

  • Do not approach or touch the caterpillars or nests
  • Suspected cases should be reported via TreeAlert and where possible the landowner. If the landowner is aware that this moth is present in the location they may already have a strategy for its containment and control. Please follow any warning signs and safety information provided
  • Due to the irritant hairs control of this insect should only be carried out by professional contractors. More information is available from the Forestry Commission



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