Fact Check: Images of men dead due to caterpillar's sting are MISLEADING
A green worm has infested the cotton crop. People are dying within 5 minutes of being stung by the worm and it happened in Karnataka. The worm is more poisonous than a snake. Please share this information to all groups on WhatsApp, especially the farmers.
A few images showing a green caterpillar-like worm, along with a few dead men, in a farm are in circulation with a claim in Telugu that people are dying after being stung by the creature in the pictures.
The claim in Telugu goes "ఆకుపచ్చని పురుగు పత్తి పొలంలో వస్తుందట. అది కొరికిన ఐదు నిమిషాల్లో చనిపోతారట ఇది కర్ణాటకలో జరిగినది. ఇది పాము కంటే విషమైన పురుగు. దయచేసి అన్ని గ్రూపులకు వాట్సాప్ లకు షేర్ చేయండి. ముఖ్యంగా రైతులకు తెలియజేయండి."
When translated, it states: "A green worm has infested the cotton crop. People are dying within 5 minutes of being stung by the worm and it happened in Karnataka. The worm is more poisonous than a snake. Please share this information to all groups on WhatsApp, especially the farmers."
The claim that people seen in the pictures died due to the poison in the worm is FALSE.
Firstly, when the image of the worm was searched using Google reverse image search, we found a website with stock images of a similar creature posted with the title Nettle caterpillar, Manu, Tripura, India.
When searching for Nettle caterpillars, we found that it is the first larval form of an Asian moth. It is covered with rows of poisonous spines. The colour of the worm is varied, ranging from white to light grey.
If stung by the worm in the picture, there would be a burning and itching sensation, caused due to an allergic reaction. The skin would swell, leading to a welt that could last for days followed by a persistent rash that may sustain for weeks.
The worm's spine releases a mixture of irritating histamines produced by a poison gland, causing burning and itching sensation to the skin.
However, there is no report of death due to the sting by this worm. The Krishi Vignan Kendra clarified that these caterpillars are seen in sugarcane fields and orchards. There is a risk of itching sensation and irritation but there is no danger of death due to the worm.
When we searched for more information on the death of farmers seen in the images, we found that they died after being struck by lightning. According to Maharashtratimes.com, in an unfortunate incident in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, a father and son died on the spot on being struck by lightning.
Hence, the people seen in the viral images died after being struck by lightning but not due to the caterpillar's sting. The claim is FALSE.