armyworm moth and allergies

Jim Mason jim at
Mon Oct 15 15:18:36 EDT 2007

I received the following email from a person with respiratory distress that 
may or may not be related to what looks like a mass exposure to armyworm 
moths several years ago.  Does anyone on the list have any knowledge about 
allergens and/or microscopic "bugs" that she may have received from the 
moths?  Thanks.

- Jim Mason, Naturalist
Jim at
Great Plains Nature Center
6232 E. 29th Street North
Wichita, KS 67220-2200
316-683-5499 x103 - voice
316-688-9555 - fax


In the late 80's, my husband and I were headed across Kansas to Colorado for 
Memorial weekend. We pulled off at a rest station and spent the night in our 
van (I think it was Wawasee). There was a tornado in the area that night (in 
fact the next day we heard of a young man camping that was killed). When we 
awoke, there were what seemed like thousands of moths sharing our van with 
us -- tucked in the doorways, crevices, on our sleeping bags, pillows, in 
our hair, etc. and there was moth dust all over our sleeping area (I know I 
inhaled a lot of moth dust from all the moths I rolled over on my pillow as 
I slept) . I came down with a temperature over the next couple of days while 
on our trip that was 102 degrees. Later that summer I developed some weird 
dematitis spots (looked like a red ring but wasn't ringworm -- not the 
bullseye look of lymes) and the dermatologist just guessed and gave me a 
cortisone ointment. Here's the deal........... I've always had allergies, 
but my respiratory health has worsened and I feel, in retrospect, that that 
year was a turning point. Since then I often run low-grade temperatures for 
no reason (I sometimes get rejected from giving blood due to this). I always 
feel that there is a "old/dead tasting" film in my lungs that I cough up --  
sometimes worse than others. I get sinus infections a lot and my allergies 
got worse. Doctors all say it is just allergies -- and I've undergone 6 
years of allergy shots and two sinus surgeries to remove cysts. But my 
respiratory system still feels screwed up. I've asked them if there could 
have been an parasitic organism/fungi on the moths that I inhaled and that I 
am now hosting, that my system just keeps fighting but never takes over. And 
that maybe they could test/culture for it. They look at me like I'm nuts and 
no one shows a desire to check it out. But a friend of mine's brother 
breathed in bat guana particles and had that happen and got quite sick 
before they figured it out. I think that it is possible. Any thoughts?

BTW, the moths were rather drab in appearance -- like a dull buff color. If 
there is such an organism/fungi parasite, would you please name it for me? 
Could it live internally in a human's respiratory system? And is there any 
instances of humans of breathing these in and hosting them? 


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