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post #1 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 10:49 Thread Starter
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Processionary Caterpillars - Dangerous!

I have had a request to repost my recent photographs of these into a new thread that can be made 'sticky'

#1 A young caterpillar wandering around its nest



#2 A well used nest newly abandoned



#3 On the move



#4 As close as I was going to get!



By way of excellent explanation about the dangers of these critters the following is a quote by MandyandDave in their previous thread

"Processionary Caterpillars are so called because they form processions, nose to tail, as they leave the nest prior to changing into moths. They are found in all Mediterranean climatic areas, ranging from Portugal in the West through to the Adriatic and beyond in the East. The "nests" are fist sized or larger balls of spun filaments, usually lodged in fairly high branches of pine trees, and yes, many campsites in all of these countries border onto or are within pine forested areas!

The months from October through to March and April see the time when the caterpillars descend from the cocoon nests and they will then form "processions" in search of food sources. These can be hundreds of caterpillars nose to tail, winding along roadways, paths, grass, whatever. The caterpillars have poisonous and irritant brittle hairs on their bodies, and are a mottled dull brown with faded yellowish splotches, a standard nature danger signal!

In adults these hairs will cause severe skin irritations, and occasionally anaphylactic shock, closure of airways leading to death, and obviously requiring immediate medical treatment. In children, (who are more inquisitive about the processions and may handle the caterpillars then transfer the fingers and hairs to the mouth etc) the effects can be more immediately severe and will almost always require immediate professional medical aid. Similarly, older people with less resistance can also be quickly affected. Golfers, tennis players, footballers and bowlers (petanque and boules) should be careful NOT to handle a ball that has gone through a procession, golfers should check local rules, some courses permit substitutions. Golf, Tennis, boules and Footballs should be cleaned with disposable cloths which should then be burned as a means of disposal.

For pets, dogs and cats, the problem is that the caterpillars have a bittersweet smell and taste, and both dogs and cats will try to eat them. The results are almost certainly fatal, as little as three or four will kill a medium sized dog, and one may produce death in a cat. The reaction to the poison also causes necrosis of the tongue, and by the time the owner notices the problem, it is usually too late for veterinary treatment to do much except ease suffering.

Local advice is that brushing a procession away can cause more problems than it solves, this spreads the irritation producing hairs and the risk of poisoning actually becomes higher as a result.

French research indicates that GLOBAL WARMING is affecting the spread and range of these caterpillars, and they are now being reported as far north as the Loire and Seine valleys, spreading from the Pyrenees and the Massif Centrale. Best advice is take care and avoid letting your pet run free near pine woods, even on those "pain in the butt" long leads."

Please be aware of these nasty little things.
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post #2 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 10:53
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I have been looking out for them from when these pics were first posted. I still have them to remind me what they look like. There appear to be loads of insects that God appears to either have made totally nasty looking or benign looking and just as deadly.

Just a bluebottle will cause me to flee the premises.

Edited as I got my time frame wrong.

I want to die quietly in my sleep like my Uncle did. Not screaming and shouting like his passengers.
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post #3 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 15:15
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We live in the middle of a pine forest near Cahors,sw France.I can confirm that the trees are full of these nests, they have been appearing over the last few weeks at an alarming rate! Can't recall having seen so many over recent years. As yet have'nt seen any of the little b's on the move,but are keeping close eye on them as we have 2 small daschunds. anyone got any ideas of how to get rid of these nests.......remembering how high up they are!
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post #4 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 15:35
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I was told that in France the Pompiers will deal with them in the same way as I believe it is mandatory to involve Les Pompiers with hornets nests.

I can only rely on what I was told, but the people who told us had had a problm with them in the Dordogne region. Not something I would want to tackle!

Dave
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post #5 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 15:50
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We have been cutting branches off our trees and burning them, it is amazing just how many caterpillars there are in each cocoon. Our house is in the Charente Maritime, and we seem to get more nests each year. The French in the village do not seem to bother removing them, but their dogs are fastened in kennels except for when they go chassing on a weekend, so maybe they are not a problem to them.
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post #6 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 16:23
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A couple of add-on comments:
1. In Spain there is a special Police department (yes, police!) to whom all sightings should be reported. They will send out a spray team to deal with them.
2. Most dogs can be treated if they are taken to a vet within about 40 minutes of first showing distress. If you act quickly, it need not be fatal to them.

In Southern Spain the high risk period is late January to early March.

Hope no-one gets coaught by them.
Patrick
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post #7 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 16:25
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I saw these while in Spain in Jan and dodging the little devils was so hard as Louis ran around.
As more and more Property has been built so they have come right into the Pine trees amongst residential areas.
The Spanish do Spray the trails every evening but we saw plenty crawling alive on the Pavements as we walked into Benidorm from La Nusia.
I even got one on my trousers in my Sons garden and took it into our M/H
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post #8 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 17:19
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That's it for me. Bognor next year.
YFi and YFi like this.

I want to die quietly in my sleep like my Uncle did. Not screaming and shouting like his passengers.
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post #9 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 18:41
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Erm.....so what have I missed here? what do they do and how dangerous are they?
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post #10 of 70 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 19:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badger
Erm.....so what have I missed here? what do they do and how dangerous are they?
For pets, dogs and cats, the problem is that the caterpillars have a bittersweet smell and taste, and both dogs and cats will try to eat them. The results are almost certainly fatal, as little as three or four will kill a medium sized dog, and one may produce death in a cat. The reaction to the poison also causes necrosis of the tongue, and by the time the owner notices the problem, it is usually too late for veterinary treatment to do much except ease suffering.

In adults these hairs will cause severe skin irritations, and occasionally anaphylactic shock, closure of airways leading to death, and obviously requiring immediate medical treatment. In children, (who are more inquisitive about the processions and may handle the caterpillars then transfer the fingers and hairs to the mouth etc) the effects can be more immediately severe and will almost always require immediate professional medical aid. Similarly, older people with less resistance can also be quickly affected. Golfers, tennis players, footballers and bowlers (petanque and boules) should be careful NOT to handle a ball that has gone through a procession, golfers should check local rules, some courses permit substitutions. Golf, Tennis, boules and Footballs should be cleaned with disposable cloths which should then be burned as a means of disposal.
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