Monday, January 11, 2016

Beware of the Spiny Caterpillar - Higad!



Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio

738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

 Close-up of a species of higad that thrives on firetree (Delonix regia)Beware of the higad. If you have touched one, this is what to do.

To remove bristles of a spiny caterpillar (higad or budo-budo Ilk) that got embedded into your skin, light a candle and train the melted wax on the affected area.

Just tolerate the heat and let the candle drops solidify over the protruding bristles, cementing them in the process. Slowly peel off the candle and you will get rid of the multiple tiny arrows.

I learned this folk remedy from Ka Ernie Temado, a co-worker at Paul University QC who saw my swollen hand. I explained how a large spiny caterpillar ensconced inside a shoe which I was about to shine directly planted no less than two dozen tiny sharp bristles into the back of my left hand.

Higad is the caterpillar of a moth, and moths are nocturnal. That's why the higad prefers a dark place to prepare for its eventual metamorphosis - other reasons notwithstanding. The first aid I applied was vinegar. I rubbed off the bristles with pure Sukang Iloko. Acid actually dissolves the alkaline bristles, but only the protruding part. But with Temado’s first aid, you pull off the entire spear without breaking it and in so doing prevent the venom from being injected - and from spreading.

Here is another case about higad that I cannot forget. My youngest son stepped on a molted skin of higad. Caterpillars by the way, shed off their skin at least four times before they turn into pupae. The pupa of a moth has a casing (cocoon) which the caterpillar builds in its final stage, as in the case of the silkworm; whereas the pupa of a butterfly is naked (chrysalis). The cocoon of higad is made up of the caterpillar's own bristles cemented by its saliva. It is also dangerous to touch.

My son took a bath and unknowingly spread the venomous bristles all over his body. We took him to the hospital and the doctor gave him an anti-histamine shot. It took him a day to recover.

Beware of the higad! If you touched one, don't panic. Light a candle. ~



Author shows a spiny caterpillar clinging on its host, a leaf of binunga (Macaranga tenarius).  There are a dozen kinds of spiny caterpillar with specific or wide range of host.  They are seasonal in nature, either in summer or during cool moths.  

 Home remedy using melted candle over embedded spines. Slowly peel off , and apply natural vinegar on the ffected area.  Do not rub.  Seek medical advice if condition is not relieved. . 
 There are at least three instars (caterpillars after moulting) before they pupate (left). Larval stage may last for a month, while the pupal stage usually lasts for a week. Note skin castings, which also cause irritation.    
The spiny caterpillar is the larval stage of this moth.  By camouflage and mimicry this moth escapes potential predators. 

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