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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Africa: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

"In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf..."
Everyone remember that story?
Cute lil' thang, ain't he? The book is only 225 words, and yet has sold more than 30 million copies. It's a great counting/learning-to-read/stare-at-the-pretty-colors book. It's been translated into 50 languages.

Well I'm here to tell you that it has NOT been translated into Lugandan. Because in Uganda, the very hungry caterpillar is not a "cute lil' thang"!

Here's what he looks like. Notice the cotton-puff thin hairs surrounding his skinny body. Those hairs say, "F-you, world! Go ahead. I double-dog-dare you to mess with me."
Those hairs are covered with poison and each individual hair feels like a bee sting. And if you brush up against a caterpillar, you're not just getting one bee sting, sister.

Notice the picture below. You can barely even see the little guy. He's like, "Oh, look. I'm a twig. No, no. I'm a rock. A leaf. Mulch. Part of the innocent earth for you to walk barefoot across. Bwa-ha-ha."
The little Ugandan children were like "Whatever" about snakes. But one night when a "very hungry caterpillar" fell from a tree onto the deck where we were having movie night, the kids screamed and scattered like we were watching
Nightmare on Elm Street and Freddy Kruger had just dropped out of the sky.

I've lived most of my life in Las Vegas and Los Angeles so I do not know about these crazy little crawlers. Apparently, there are some poisonous caterpillars right here in Florida too. Who knew?

So what do you do? Well, you hope for the best. Some have been known to drop out of trees and land on you, accidentally, of course. But if they touch you, they will also "accidentally" sting you. And don't try the panic mode of swatting or brushing them off of your clothing. Your hand will scream profanities at you.

If you do get stung, prepare for a few days of intense pain, fevers, and headaches. You can remove some of the hairs by repeated stripping with an adhesive, like Scotch Tape. Then your best bet is an ice pack and baking soda paste. And as always, try NOT to be old, young, or sick when planning to get stung.

1 comment:

  1. They have them in New Orleans too. People who grew up here were horrified when I told them about the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." I did not believe them at first when they told me that the caterpillar stings. I used to play with caterpillars growing up in GA. Messed up place where the caterpillars sting, the roaches fly, and termites swarm so badly that you keep the lights off in your house from 4:30 til 9pm for almost an entire month.