Procession Caterpillars – Good friend Or Foe?

Caterpillars remind me of my backyard, consuming the plantation, small, innocent, possibly even cute however annoying to the plants with no danger to me, kids or my pets. Ask me about procession caterpillars and I offers you a totally totally different reply. Good friend or foe?

Foe wouldn’t even start to explain these characters, they’re the enemy and must be averted in any respect prices. Enemy most likely sounds too robust an outline for somewhat bushy caterpillar however belief me, don’t make a judgment due to its dimension or as a result of you might have at all times preferred them.

Discovered throughout Europe, particularly in Mediterranean nations the place the temperatures are usually hotter, particularly titled Thaumatopoea Pitycampa or the caterpillar of the pine tree. They’re thought-about a risk to the timber, harmful to animals and to individuals could cause a really robust allergic response attributable to the hairs discovered on their backs.

Historically, the nests are discovered within the pine timber and their house is normally positioned on the sunny aspect of the tree and may usually be noticed from a distance the place the pine needles have turned brown.

On nearer inspection, white sweet floss woven on the branches and delicate silk baggage will be seen adorning the timber. These are the nests of the procession caterpillar, defending them as they develop and maintaining them heat.

To feed, they go away the protection of their residence at evening and stroll alongside the branches to demolish and quake on the pine tree, venturing additional afield as soon as they depleted the provides. They’re grasping and harmful and are lively within the winter months, usually feeding in zero temperatures earlier than returning to the nest to relaxation and digest their feed within the hotter, daylight hours.

In March when they’re totally grown they commemorate the subsequent stage of their journey, leaving the protection of the nest and tree looking for a burial web site.

Why are they named procession caterpillars? Once they begin to transfer, they appear as if they’re marching, like a military in a line, head to tail decided to discover a appropriate pupation web site within the soil. They could journey lengthy distances from the host tree earlier than they bury themselves, spending the hotter months buried as a pupa. In August, the moth emerges from its cocoon, mates and lays its eggs in a pine tree and the cycle commences another time.

We now have lived in Spain for a number of years now and we’ve a beautiful pet canine named Angel, who’s a West Highland Terrier, who likes to prey to hunt and discover the woods across the pine timber. We now have by no means skilled any issues and for almost all of the yr it’s a protected and nice place to stroll. Through the first quarter of the yr, January by way of April we do should be vigilant and we favor to search out different areas to stroll.

The start of the yr is probably the most harmful time for publicity to the caterpillars, though the nests are fashioned earlier than then. Because of the climate being hotter, whether or not local weather change is guilty or not I have no idea, however I’ve seen the caterpillars within the woods feeding and away from their nests in early December, though uncommon.

True to her breed, Angel is at all times sniffing in bushes and monitoring a odor by way of the undergrowth and it’s this habits that causes her the best risk. Alongside the again of the bugs are nice, irritating hairs that if inhaled, licked or certainly ate the caterpillar could cause her nice ache. Canine, cats and foxes are among the many animals at most danger to those bugs, drawn to them due to their colour and a few say their odour.

If the hairs come into contact with the animals lips or tongue, the realm will swell in a short time and trigger a considerable amount of ache and we have to guarantee this doesn’t asphyxiate them. If the caterpillar has been eaten then the signs are extra extreme with vomiting, a fever and blood current within the urine. In the event you suspect your animal has come into contact with the caterpillars you need to take them to the vet instantly, the sooner the therapy will be administrated the higher.

The hairs on the caterpillar are launched into the air and should not have to be hooked up to harm harm. Beware, poking the insect with a stick or treading on them will solely launch the hairs into the surroundings and you’ll grow to be extra inclined to inhalation. Even when the caterpillar is lifeless the hairs stay harmful.

Disposing of the nests through the winter months must be left to the professionals, though spraying the nests with hairspray to make sure the hairs don’t disperse into the air, overlaying with a plastic bag and chopping the department down is the same old therapy earlier than setting the nest On fireplace. Protecting clothes together with goggles have to be worn, so go away it to the consultants. A procession of caterpillars are normally set alight after dousing them with lighter fluid, once more to stop the hairs from circulating.

Please be aware, I don’t advocate this process because the timber and woodland are sometimes dry and desiccated and this poses an actual risk to forest and bush fires.

Please preserve your pets protected, don’t panic in regards to the caterpillars, studying to reside with them, being cautious and conscious helps to stop any issues or encounterers with the bugs. They don’t seem to be round all yr, it is just for a brief time frame that you might want to be vigilant. Keep in mind, should you assume your pets have come into contact with them or certainly your self search veterinary and medical help instantly. Images of the caterpillars will be discovered on my web site.