Procession Caterpillars – Buddy Or Foe?

Caterpillars remind me of my backyard, consuming the plantation, small, innocent, possibly even cute however annoying to the flora with no threat to me, kids or my pets. Ask me about procession caterpillars and I will provide you with a very totally different reply. Buddy or foe?

Foe wouldn’t even start to explain these characters, they’re the enemy and needs to be averted in any respect prices. Enemy in all probability sounds too sturdy an outline for somewhat bushy caterpillar however belief me, don’t make a judgement due to its measurement or as a result of you could have all the time favored them.

Discovered throughout Europe, particularly in Mediterranean nations the place the temperatures are typically hotter, formally titled Thaumatopoea Pitycampa or the caterpillar of the pine tree. They’re thought-about a menace to the bushes, harmful to animals and to individuals may cause a really sturdy allergic response brought on by the hairs discovered on their backs.

Historically, the nests are discovered within the pine bushes and their house is normally positioned on the sunny aspect of the tree and might 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 may be seen adorning the bushes. These are the nests of the procession caterpillar, defending them as they develop and retaining them heat.

To feed, they go away the security of their house at night time and stroll alongside the branches to demolish and feast on the pine tree, venturing additional afield as soon as they depleted the provides. They’re grasping and damaging 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 begin the following stage of their journey, leaving the security of the nest and tree searching for a burial website.

Why are they named procession caterpillars? After they begin to transfer, they give the impression of being as if they’re marching, like a military in a line, head to tail decided to discover a appropriate pupation website 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 once more.

We have now lived in Spain for a number of years now and we have now a stunning pet canine named Angel, who’s a West Highland Terrier, who likes to fake to hunt and discover the woods amongst the pine bushes. We have now by no means skilled any issues and for almost all of the 12 months it’s a secure and nice place to stroll. Through the first quarter of the 12 months, January via to April we do should be vigilant and we desire to seek out different areas to stroll.

The start of the 12 months is probably the most harmful time for publicity to the caterpillars, though the nests are shaped earlier than then. As a result of climate being hotter, whether or not local weather change is in charge 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 all the time sniffing in bushes and monitoring a odor via the undergrowth and it’s this conduct that causes her the best menace. Alongside the again of the bugs are effective, irritating hairs that if inhaled, licked or certainly eaten the caterpillar may cause her nice ache. Canine, cats and foxes are among the many animals at most threat to those bugs, interested in them due to their shade and a few say their odor.

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 case you suspect your animal has come into contact with the caterpillars you could take them to the vet instantly, the sooner the remedy may be administered the higher.

The hairs on the caterpillar are launched into the air and do not need to be hooked up to inflict damage. Beware, poking the insect with a stick or treading on them will solely launch the hairs into the setting and you’ll turn into extra inclined to inhalation. Even when the caterpillar is lifeless the hairs stay harmful.

Disposing of the nests in the course of the winter months needs to 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 remedy earlier than setting the nest on fireplace. Protecting clothes together with goggles have to be worn, so go away it to the specialists. A procession of caterpillars are normally set alight after dousing them with lighter fluid, once more to forestall the hairs from circulating.

Please notice, I don’t advocate this process because the bushes and woodland are sometimes dry and desiccated and this poses an actual menace to forest and bush fires.

Please maintain your pets secure, don’t panic in regards to the caterpillars, studying to reside with them, being cautious and conscious helps to forestall any issues or encounters with the bugs. They aren’t round all 12 months, it is just for a brief time period that it is advisable be vigilant. Bear in mind, if you happen to assume your pets have come into contact with them or certainly your self search veterinary and medical help instantly. Pictures of the caterpillars may be discovered on my web site.


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