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A mum-of-three has warned parents to beware of dangerous critters after her son was left in agony after making a "friend" in the garden.
Caroline Gel, from Oxfordshire, says her son Oliver was left covered in a painful rash after he befriended a caterpillar while playing outside last week on May 17.
After 30 minutes of playing, the four-year-old started to complain about a "stinging" sensation on his face and mouth.
The next day the poor boy woke up with sore hives and a rash all over his body, reports Liverpool Echo.
The 43-year-old said: "Oliver was learning about caterpillars at school as his class were reading the whole hungry caterpillar story.
"So he went outside to play last week and took a caterpillar down off a tree. He even made a little house for it.
"Then around half an hour later, he was complaining about a sting on his face and mouth – my husband had recently cut the grass, so I thought it might have been a grass allergy or something."
Caroline said the rash was particularly bad around his face and mouth the next morning.
She continued: "We took him to the doctors and they said they were unsure of the cause but suggested it might have been hives so gave him antihistamines to help with the inflammation."
The mum then decided to google the caterpillar Oliver was playing with and discovered it was a brown tail moth caterpillar.
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This particular species has urticating hairs that cause an irritant effect – when they are in contact with human skin, they sometimes can result in breathing difficulties, rashes and hives.
Caroline, a career coach at Oxford University, added: "Oliver is always outside and is very curious.
"Normally I would never discourage him from touching things – but these insects are not very nice ones so I want to spread the word and make sure other people don't touch these caterpillars, especially children".
She has confirmed Oliver still has rashes but they are better than they were and have gone down thanks to the antihistamine and calamine location.
"Oliver was very excited about caterpillars but not anymore – he's very vocal to people now telling them not to touch them," she added.
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