Dogs and Killer Processionary Caterpillars in Portugal


The Pine Processionary Caterpillar can kill your dog. Beware!

Killer Processionary Catterpillars
Beware of Processionary caterpillars. They are dangerous animals.

The Pine Processionary Caterpillar can also cause you or other people, severe medical problems. In the comments below you will see that several people have suffered quite seriously from the effects of coming into contact with the caterpillar, or at least the hairs of the animal.

Even if you are not a dog owner, but live in or like to travel around Europe I think it could be useful to know something about the caterpillar and what can happen if you get the hairs on your hands, face or body.

I first encountered killer caterpillars in the north of Portugal. I was walking with my dog Tess on a dirt track that ran along the side of a lake. As we walked, I was enjoying the peacefulness of the scenery and Tess was wandering about sniffing and exploring. Catching the scent of previous visitors here and there. Nose down and her tail wagging. I had a faint hope of spotting an eagle, or if I was very lucky a wolf. This was a remote place and the terrain was wild and rugged. If I were a wolf, or an eagle, I would like to live in these rocky mountains too. Lots of eucalyptus, pine, cork oaks and many other varieties of trees and plant life. We zigzagged our separate ways to and fro, from one side of the track to the other. Both happy for the freedom of the countryside. A photo of a flower here, the view from here, an insect there, another picture of Tess and here I am in a dog walking photographers heaven. Love it, love it, love it.

Looking ahead on the track I saw what I thought was a bootlace or a piece of string and slightly to the left a shorter one. It just seemed a bit odd somehow. When I looked a little closer I was quite astonished. The two bits of string were moving! To my amusement I realized that I was watching a string of caterpillars nose to tail, moving in procession across the track. About thirty five of them in one line, and about twenty in the other. I had never seen anything like it. They looked quite pretty and harmless enough, just like most caterpillars do. Always ready with a camera, I set about taking photos. They were obviously heading across the track and in a reasonably straight line.

Now Tess was wandering around and came over to investigate. I didn't want her to disturb or injure them in any way, so I asked her to stay back. Which she did. And I was able to take photos unhindered. Kneeling down and scrabbling around on all fours, I took some pictures. I looked up to see a car coming slowly my way. Bumping in and out of the pot holes, it gradually approached. I called Tess over and she sat back, out of the way. Tess was a beautiful Labrador and a wonderful companion at home or away. She was very easy to train. Labradors in my experience usually are.

Not speaking Portuguese at all, I tried pointing to the caterpillars and then to direct the driver around them. Sometimes I get caught between wanting to jump in to help avoid what I see as imminent disaster and interfering. I dismissed the idea of scooping them up with my hands as being even more silly, judging by the puzzled look on his face. He didn't seem to have a clue about what I was trying to say, and promptly drove on. He was probably thinking that this Englishman is crazy. From inside the car he would not have seen them perhaps.

Meanwhile Tess sat and looked on patiently.

Now there were several bits of string, and a lot of untangling to do. After a while, some took charge and they regrouped. After some navigational errors, the fit and able continued, only to be crushed by yet another car. I was getting a bit upset. It was all getting very messy. I watched the caterpillars for some time and then decided to continue with the walk.

Several months after seeing the strange sight, I was warned by some German friends about a small dangerous animal that I should be very careful of. Especially with my dog. They tried to describe the beast to me but I failed to understand the nature of this animal. That it was small, lived in trees and dangerous was as much as I could understand.

My friends seemed to make quite an important issue of it, telling tales of inquisitive dogs losing their tongues, and dying because of an allergic reaction to poison, which is found on the hairs of this creature. A few days later they found the word that cleared up the mystery. Caterpillar. Naturally I started to ask other people about them and found out how lucky I was that Tess didn't go near them. It could have been a very nasty situation and I don't know how things would have turned out if Tess had not been a well behaved and obedient dog. And what if I had scooped them up with my hands? Also, other friends have told me to wear a hat under pine trees. and not to get to close, just because I want photos. My friend said he had some dust come down from a nest. He ran and stood under a shower for ages. Apparently the Histamine can cause severe itching, nasty rashes, blisters, breathing problems and could cause anaphylactic shock.

The Processionary Caterpillar is the larva of a silk moth. Thaumetopoeiae. They live in pine trees from which they eat the needles. They live in whitish colour sacks or bags which can be clearly seen on the branches. Sometimes twenty or thirty on a tree. In the comments at the bottom of the page you will see that they have been found in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey and probably in many other countries including possibly the U.K.

I took several photos of caterpillar nests on the 29th January 2016 as I was driving up to the paragliding take off point on the hill above the town of Montellano which is in Andalucia, Southern Spain. There were a few nests but not heavily infested.

Photo of Pine Processionary Caterpillar nest Montellano 4
Picture of Pine Processionary Caterpillar nest Montellano
Pine Processionary Caterpillar nest Montellano South Spain
Picture of Pine Processionary Caterpillar nest Montellano South Spain

The Pine processionary caterpillars can eventually kill the tree they are living in. Because the caterpillars are nocturnal they will come out of thier nests during the night to feed on the pine needles. If there are too many nests in one tree it could be stripped bare of foliage and die. Any type of  pine tree makes a good home for the caterpillars.
The caterpillars feed on the needles of the pine tree and when they are ready they leave the nest by playing follow the leader, One takes the lead and the others follow. They travel along the branch and down the trunk to the ground. Nose to tail, Bumper to bumper.

Processionary catterpillars on the move
Bumper to bumper Processionary Caterpillars

The next stage is to find some some soil which is soft enough to burrow into. Once deep into the soil they change into a chrysalis and when conditions are right will emerge as a moth. Then the cycle repeats itself. The female Pine Processionary moth finds a mate. She then finds a pine tree and lays her eggs high up on the branch tips which hatch out into young caterpillars. The young caterpillars then build the nest also called 'silk tents' in which to live until they are mature and ready to leave, either to find another tree for more food, or to go underground to turn into a chrysalis and then a moth.

Killer Processionary Caterpillars live in nest like this.
Stay away from killer processionary caterpillars

Best advice.

Stay away from any pine trees with the nests of  the Pine Processionary Caterpillar

Whenever out in the countryside, especially near pine trees, keep a look out. The nests are easy to see. Perhaps put your dog on a lead. until you are well clear of them.

If you suspect your dog has come into contact with the caterpillars, the signs can be obvious within five minutes.
Some of the signs that an animal, be it a pet dog or cat, are suffering from an allergic reaction to the Pine Processionary Caterpillar poison are, drooling or salivating, vomiting, drowsy or listless, swelling of the lips, tongue, face and general head area, severe irritation of the feet and or face and maybe some not so obvious ones.
If you see any of these signs GET TO THE VET. Many of the people in the comments below feel that getting to the vets quickly is what saved the lives of their pet animals.

Your dog may pick up the hairs on its paws and lick them because of an irritation. This will bring the hairs into contact with the mouth and nose. The lips, tongue, and nose can  swell up to a huge size until the whole head is swollen. The tongue may become so large and swollen that partial or full amputation may be necessary. You might also notice a very bad smell. Because of the swelling the air passages can also become blocked leading to suffocation. Get to the vets straight away and if available your dog should be given Apis pills immediately.

If needed the vet will also give a cortisone injection.

If you can find a homoeopathy shop or vet near you, get some APIS pills, and keep them for an emergency such as this. They will also work with wasp stings.

Tip. Keep them in a dry airtight container. They will dissolve very easily into nothing if they get the slightest bit damp.

The correct way is to give the pills and then visit the vets. But don't waste time looking for shops that might or might not have it. If you don't know where to get the apis head to the nearest vet. Your dogs life is in danger.  Note not all vets will keep Apis but they will have Cortisone. Another good reason for keeping some Apis pills yourself in case of such an emergency.

Processionary catterpillar nests in a tree in Portugal
Processionary caterpillar nests in a tree in Portugal

Protect your self when working near pine trees especially if you can see the nest. The wearing of protection such as goggles, gloves and a dust mask is advisable. A puff of wind and a face full of dust is not good news.

This tree is beside the road between Odemira and Sao Luis in the Alentejo, Southern Portugal. The nests look like candy floss and are within easy reach of someone standing on the ground. This was the first time I saw a tree with caterpillar nests.
Now I fully understood what my German friends were talking about.

Parents with children should also be especially vigilant near pine trees or any area with a mixture of trees

Update 8th February 2016
Video of caterpillars leaving a pine tree to start the next stage underground.

I was kindly invited to take a look at a pine tree in the Algarve which was heavily infested with caterpillars. I went along to take some photos and was lucky enough to video record some of the caterpillars coming down the trunk of the tree. Chris the owner of the property had been dealing with large numbers of caterpillars for the last couple of weeks. The pet dog had been affected very seriously and nearly died. The story with a happy ending is in the comments below.

You will also see in the video that a wide band of special tape had been put around the tree. I will say that it is virtually impossible to get this type of trap to work effectively for a few reasons as follows.

The bark is very knobbly for want of a better word and would be impossible to make a tight fit against the tree. The caterpillars will simply circle the trunk of the tree until they find a place to pass through. The knobbles would first need to be removed creating a much smoother surface.

If the bark is made smooth and the tape is applied tightly I doubt that any tree will be a perfect circular shape so there will always be gaps to allow caterpillars to pass under. Smoothing the bark, wrapping the tape around and then filling the gaps with grease might be effective, but then if you have the grease you do not need the tape.

I suspect the tape will also become loose or start to become saggy due to exposure to the wind, rain and sunshine.

If anyone has had any success with this type of solution please tell us about it.

We chatted for quite a while and then looked around the side of the house where there was another pine tree. Sure enough, on the path but under some leaves was another group of caterpillars. All the caterpillars where scooped up and disposed of by fossalization

My friend Peter and his wife have Pine trees on their property and each year the trees have caterpillar nests in them. They also have two dogs and take the risk of injury or sickness through contact with the caterpillar hairs very seriously. I asked Peter if I could film him when he was preparing the tree for caterpillar season and he kindly agreed. Thank you Peter.
In this video Peter demonstrates how he cleans the knobbly bark from a Pine tree and how to apply a band of grease around the trunk to catch the caterpillars. Please also note that he is wearing protective clothing and that he has anti histamine close by if needed. The grease he is using can be bought in most hardware shops, super markets, local garages and so on. The grease is sold in a variety of sizes of tins, tubs and cartridges and commonly used as a mechanical lubricant for vehicles and machinery. A video coming soon will prove this method does work.

I hope this article will help to prevent serious injury or even death to any dogs, cats, all pet animals and even people.

Please read all the comments below for more information, especially the story from Chris Yates and the pet dogs near death experience. It outlines the importance of not waiting to see what happens.

Thank you very much to Caroline, Tony, Gaynor, H, Mrs Dale Fraser, Fernanda, Heather, Kathy, Sarah, Tony, Sue, Alan, Jonzjob, Lesley, Jane, Chris, Issia, Jean, Lizzie, Syd, Sally, Sheila, Dario, Ian, Lyn, Chris, Iris, Amanda, Marie and Jenny for sharing you stories, tips and help in the comments below.

If you found this interesting and have something you would like to add please leave a comment in the box below.If you would like to send a photo or video of your own to put on this page that would be fantastic.

Thank you for reading.
Selwyn.

See also
Megarian Banded Centipede
Veterinary Clinic in the Algarve

72 thoughts on “Dogs and Killer Processionary Caterpillars in Portugal

  1. Fernanda Birrell

    Hi Selwyn, you were a great help a year ago, when I had an encounter with a row of processionaries. My question today, in Sintra and in June, I am right in thinking I have found one, a single one? I used gloves and have it in a jar, and appart from looking thinner it looks the same, in terms of coulouring, and the hairs on it's back. this one was going up a fence keeping our new pup in the alpendre. but a couple of days ago my husband found one under a stone, when he was digging out cane roots. we have had very hot weather for Sintra, but I thought they were only on the ground between September and at latest March.

    Reply
  2. joe

    Thank you for your post. I recently got over an infection on my hands and feet but it also attacked my lungs and sinuses. I couldn't stop sneezing or blowing my nose every 4 seconds. I can't imagine this on my face. Sorry to hear anyone has had to deal with that. We live in Monchique and the neighbors had it too, but they thought it was just a cold. Our neighbors also had a couple dogs die of what they think was rat poison, but I suspect it might have been this caterpillar.

    From what I read, the little beasts affect people and dogs in the spring and later winter. Does this mean they are not toxic when they are younger, maybe during the fall? Also has anyone ever tried to use https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_earth?

    It is readily available in the US, but haven't seen it here. I would appreciate any help in finding it.

    Reply
    1. Peter

      Hi Joe, That sounds as though you and your neighbours have been affected quite badly by the hairs - I hope you all have made a full recovery. I am not a bug-expert but suspect that once they have formed as caterpillars they would be a threat, young or mature. However, it is when they are "on the move" and especially processing down from their usually high and sunny-side nest that they are the greatest threat. Yes - even their hairs being shaken from a treetop nest would be a threat to those downwind/ below. Also, I know of someone who, while strimming near pine trees disturbed the ground where the caterpillars had buried themselves prior to their metamorphosis ( some months previously) and he had a bad histamine reaction having stirred up the hairs - that's why I wear protective clothing when preparing a pine tree for greasing -if there are signs of caterpillars - even from a previous year as their hairs can remain in the bark (I'm the chap in the white suit in Selwyn's video). Don't know about Diatomaceous earth but anything's worth a try!

      Reply
    2. Fernanda Birrell

      Look it up on Wikipedia. apparently there is a natural park in the Czeck republic where they have diatomaceous earth. In france, when I travelled down from the Czeck rep. with my pup and had him vaccinated, the vet mentioned Terre de Diatome against a rash we and the pup had picked up from the soil. I do not think this was related to processionaries, as the people we were staying at mentioned there was something on the soil that caused irritation.

      Reply
  3. Christine Green

    These caterpillars are now rife throughout most of France. We have a property in Mayenne and our Jack Russell had to have half her tongue amputed last week because of these. We had no idea how dangerous they are.
    Our poor dog was lucky to survive but there are thousands of people takibg their dogs with them on holiday to Europe who know nothing of these caterpillars. It is high time that the information was posted at ports and Channel Tunnel Folkestone . Forewarned is forearmed.
    Thank you for this very informative page.

    Reply
  4. Anne Ratcliff

    Do you mind if Iput alink to your excellent article on my Facebook page? I have just had this experience of seeing an interesting string of caterpillars crossing the road. Interesting, yes, put luckily I was riding a horse, not walking the dog. Now I have found out what they are and I'm keen to warn other people.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Anne, you are very welcome to put a link on Facebook, or any place where you think it could be useful.
      It is amazing how many people have no idea about them, and find it hard to believe how dangerous a furry little caterpillar can be.
      Thanks Anne for your comment and I would like to say that it is also what people write in the comments section that proves the danger, shares the experience, educates and keeps this article a worthwhile read. Thank you everyone.

      Reply
    2. Louise haskins

      Hi everyone. I live in Crete, have 3 rescue dogs, and my daily walk down the edge of our village is lined with infested trees. Thankfully, last year I came upon this excellent thread, and
      As soon as I saw the caterpillars in February, avoided the area for 2 months. This winter has been much colder, but am expecting them to come down any day now. My question is, after seeing the caterpillars, how long before it is safe to assume that they have gone, and it is safe to walk the dogs? Would be great to know if it is weeks or months, as I can't find the info anywhere else. . Thank you.

      Reply
  5. Javea Life

    These are truly one of the worst plague's in Spain causing untold misery to dogs and even people every year. The processionary pine caterpillar is a nasty creature to be avoided.

    Reply
  6. Pete Rob.

    I saw the first nest of the season last Saturday in the pine woods behind our land here in the Algarve. I have neve before seen them before Xmas. Early in the new year, OK, but not so early. I guess the warm autumn and early winter has advanced their season.
    This morning on my early dog walk, the were17 nests in the same group of trees!!!!
    Looks like it's gonna be a bad year for the pests. Guess I need to find a new walk!

    Reply
  7. Tamara Heikalo

    Just a heads-up to people, it has recently been discovered that they have arrived in Canada. I live in Quebec, and saw an article about this. And they attack not just pines, but larches (A.K.A. tamarack or hackmatack), also.
    If I see any of these nests, I'll be notifying the authorities for sure.
    I'll alert all my dog-owner friends about this new menace! Thanks for a great article.

    Reply
    1. Helen Froggatt

      Thanks very much for the info. Had heard of deadly caterpillars over here but really didn't know what to look for. Thank you

      Reply
    2. Jason

      We lost a dear Golden Retriever from these nasty creatures. They are moth caterpillars, but If you are unfortunate enough to see them in procession, beware!

      Best way to deal with these processions is liberal amounts of hair spray, to keep them from throwing their needles. Be careful that a gust of wind can catch these barbs in your hair, and cover your back and neck!

      Then douse them in lighter fluid, and strike a match.

      Reply
      1. Kay

        It's probably very unwise to hose down natural (or any) environments with flammables and then set fire to them. Please do not set fires.

        Reply
    3. Post author

      Hi Tamara, thanks for the comment and for the information. You are the first person to comment from outside Europe.
      Canada is a long way away. I wonder how they got there.

      Reply
  8. Stef

    Thanks very much for the info, really useful. Is it possible to clarify the months when the risk is greatest, please? We are planning to be in the South of France in May, June, July. Thanks again

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Stef, thanks for the question.
      Generally I would say the caterpillars are most likely to be leaving the nest in the trees, coming down the trunk and moving along the ground during the months of January, February and March. This is when the caterpillars are the most dangerous, however, the nest's should also be considered as dangerous at any time as they contain the hairs shed by the caterpillars during the growth period. People need to always be careful when working with pine trees, such as when felling or removing the nest's.
      May, June and July should be fine but as a back up and for piece of mind why not get some Apis pills, anti histamines to take with you. Check with your local health food shop, chemist or on the internet. For a few quid you can save yourself some problems or maybe help someone else.
      I hope you have a nice time in France.

      Reply
    2. Peter

      Hello Stef -a late response but a thought... beware of the ground ( especially soft ground) under or near pine trees as any caterpillars would have processed down from their nest in Jan-April and set up home just under the surface of the soil/leaf mould/ pine needles prior to turning into moths. A friend was strimming the grass under some pine trees last year and must have stirred-up the hairs from such a colony without spotting it as he had a bad histamine reaction very soon afterwards -hands and face itching badly. If the dogs get the hairs on their paws they can irritate so the dogs then lick their paws - can be very bad if the poison gets onto their tongues. We keep our dogs well clear of pine trees all year round, just in case.

      Reply
  9. Caroline Jopson

    Hello All,
    We are in Tuscany, in the countryside east of Chianti, have had a home here for over 13 years. Have always known about these critters and seen them do their procession out from under our pine over the years. In the past we have let them do their thing (the recommended for lack of better treatment around here) Fortunately our inquisitive and ever so busy Jack Russell Terriers over the years have never come in contact with them.
    Thank you for this post and everyone's words.
    Reading your comments I realize how lucky we have been.... as this year is different. A warm winter, perhaps, or that the carpark under the pine is now covered with gravel, we can see the caterpillars more easily and there are loads of them. I saw a huge line of them last Monday, and out of concern for our Jackie, Murphy, had a plastic veg bag that I used as a glove to pick them up, one by one and dropped them into another bag. TOTALLY IGNORANT of what was about to happen to me. We were going to take the trash away and thought I'd just tuck in this bag o worms along with our Easter refuse. I didn't have my glasses on, too late realizing the veg bag had holes in it. And my hands were beginning to itch.........
    So I run into the house and wash my hands with soap and water... then go on line to research this. THE HORROR! as I absorbed the gravity of what I had done. My hands began to show welts, but no big deal, so I thought. We were on our way to a lunch and although I felt discomfort, It wasn't so bad....
    Back home after lunch we went for a walk and then I began to itch in earnest. I realized too late that I was wearing what I had on when I was collecting the caterpillars. The next morning I woke up to welts on my face, hands neck and all corners of my body! I am allergic to these kind of things, and thank goodness it was not an anaphylactic reaction...
    So three days out, I am still dealing with crusty oozing welts, and every morning caterpillars are still trekking across our carport. Our Tuscan neighbors are all without solutions as to how to handle (!) these little fur bombs. They say just let them go to ground and it will all pass. We let yesterday's coda pass unmolested into the garden. This morning a procession was headed towards the house, exactly in the path our pup takes daily to look for the garage mouse. We are a bit desperate... my husband suited up and poured petrol on them. They are dead and lying there, the only thing we can think of is to cover them with sand (I say cement!) and more gravel!
    Its like they are radioactive!!!
    Burning the little carcasses will throw the hairs into the air, right? As will raking, scooping them up?
    I hate the idea of killing our pine tree... but the thought of our dog suffering horribly is too much as well.
    Kind and itchy regards, with gratitude...
    Caroline

    Reply
    1. Peter

      Hi Caroline, if you really can't bear to cull your pine tree then late in the autumn prepare it for the dreaded caterpillar season by putting a band of grease around the base about waist-high. Once the nest(s) is (are) mature i make a point of inspecting the grease band at least every day for the caterpillars, milling about, confused and stopped by the grease. See the short video clip above for how to prepare yourself and the pine tree vefore greasing and then how to apply the grease. In that video I was putting the band of grease higher than normal as there was an obstruction lower down. Selwyn is likely to be uploading a new 2017 video showing an improved greasing technique that focuses the caterpillars into a "kill zone" rather than having them process round and round the trunk just above the grease. We have tested and proved this improved technique''s effectiveness this season ( early 2017). Once caught I spray the beasts with killer spray and collect them in a bag, seal it and take it to our burning area well clear of humans, animals etc and douse the inside of the bag and caterpillar corpses in lamp oil ( not petrol) and then cremate the critters. The lamp oil is sufficientky viscous to keep the hairs from getting airbourne. Note, we gave strict laws re lighting fires outdoors after mid May so it's fortunate that they do their processing well before then.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  10. Tony

    Spent 6 weeks this winter in Provence, out walking almost every day with wife and two friends. Many caterpillars around. Knew a bit about them and crushed many underfoot. Several days there were high winds and I suspect the caterpillar hairs or irritant chemical might well have been airborne. At about week 3, three of us had similar symptoms. First came a sensation in the palate of the mouth as if we had been scalded. This lasted less than two days and was followed by an irritation to the throat that resembled the early symptoms of a cold. The cold did no develop. Instead came a cough and not a productive one. The worst feature was that we would be woken at about 3 am by a severe coughing fit that lasted up to 15 minutes. This night cough lasted about a fortnight and was gone before we set off back to England. I still have a slight, unproductive cough as does one of my friends. On our return, my wife started to suffer from oral thrush and shortly after came an outbreak of shingles. My friend's wife, who does not enjoy very good health, showed no symptoms whilst we were in France, but she was significantly less active outdoors than the other three. However, she developed a serious eye problem which required four days hospitalisation during which the greatly enlarged eye was drained and she was receiving eye drops at half-hour intervals. Four weeks after our return, all four of us are now rather better but not exactly totally without symptoms.
    I am concerned about the very slight amount of information extant concerning the effect of the caterpillars on humans. Whilst I sympathise with those whose dogs and cats have suffered as a result of this caterpillar, I do not think that enough is known about the potential effect on humans. Can it be possible that as well as urticaria and allergic reaction that the immune system can be weakened?

    Reply
  11. We were in andulucia for a 4 month stay with our 2 small yorkshire terriers nov 15 to march 16 went on a trip to el chorro (lakes & mountains) these caterpiller nests were hanging like baubles in a christmas tree quite disturbing stopped off at a restaurant which allowed dogs with outside space, sat down ordered drinks with our friends the ground was gravelly views amazing, we kept our dogs up on our seats, when my husband gasped oh! My !!!!! Look these thing were crawling around our feet, we quickly grabbed our baby's paid for drinks and got the hell out of there, the resturant seemed aware of there presence but did'nt seem to care and there were children at play all around, i am so so glad that we had been made aware of these deadly critter's if my dogs had come into contact with these we were to far away from a vet to have saved them seriously, we would have been devastated had this been the case because of negelect of this restaurant, truly a lot of people don't understand the serioussness of this mass problem.

    Reply
  12. H

    My dog's mouth was infested last week with the processionary caterpillar hairs. The vet gave all necessary injections, flushed he mouth out on and off all day and spent all day picking them out one by one. Poor girl has lost half her tongue and some lip. She just manages to eat and drink. I will monitor her progress as she is a 'campo' dog and her new lifestyle is making her very sad. I may have to make the hard decision to have her put down.
    Question is.....
    Are dogs ever intentionally poisoned by putting a caterpillar in food or something? I havent seen any around us here and there no pine trees here.

    Reply
  13. Dale Fraser (Mrs)

    My husband and I toured Portugal, Spain and France in our caravan together with our 3 dogs (2 border collies & a spaniel/poodle cross) between 3rd January and end of February 2016, We were aware of these caterpillars and had seen some nests in a pine forest previously when visiting friends in the Lot Valley (S. France) We stayed at a small site in central Portugal which was surrounded by mainly Eucalyptus but some fir trees. The campsite owners, who were ex-pats, had two rescue pointers and we got to talking about the "nasty caterpillars" They told us that one of their dogs was in contact with the things and her head started to swell up within a few minutes so, on Vet's advice, they gave her 3 x 20mg LEPICORTINOLO (prednisolone) bought locally and she recovered reasonably quickly. We bought a packet to keep in the car but luckily didn't need to use them.
    We did see lots of nests as we drove through Portugal and some in Spain but as we were mostly in touristy areas of Spain we probably didn't get a true picture. However we did stay at a campsite which had some nests in 2 or three trees which had been pointed out to the site owner and they actually were in the process of removing them while we were there.
    Also, have you heard of the oak processionary caterpillar? It's in the UK!!
    Finally, we live in rural Brittany and they are also as far north as here too.

    Reply
  14. Fernanda Birrell

    We live in the Sintra Natural Park area, in Janas, amongst pine trees. Some 7 years ago we noticed that an area of pines was suffering from some larvae attack, phoned the Cooperativa Agricola, who came over to inspect and told us to use xxxxxxxx (Please read note below by Selwyn) in August applied in a circular trench dug around the trees affected. We were not told anything about catterpilars. At the time we chose instead to cut down the trees and use them as fire wood which we used and gave away to friends.
    I had never seen the larvae, and originally came here with 10 Welsh Terriers, who enjoyed their lives kennelled under the shade of the pine trees and walked daily around the woods all their lives. The vet mentioned several times that I was lucky not to have processionary catterpilars, and in 16 years I never had any problems with the dogs, or so I thought.
    I have always had allergic problems and treated myself with propolis. The doctor at the health centre could never make anything out of my skin allergies, and does not believe in homeopathy, so ignored me, but as I get older this has become more of a problem and on windy days I only feel comfortable under the shower.
    Then just over a year ago, our last dog, a 36kg Castro Laboreiro died. It was horrible, because we were away for a week at some friends 5 minutes away looking after their many dogs, and would come home twice a day to look after our one bitch. One morning, we came over and she had dug herself a hole in the ground and was dead. It was horrible and all we could do was bury her. She was a beautiful dog, we had taken over when her owner died. A few months later, I found some rat poison packets in a garden shed, and as my neighbour uses them sometimes to protect his chicken food, I assumed she had somehow got hold of a rat. Since then I have not had another dog as I just did not want to have another dog go through that.
    Then yesterday, we saw a long line of processionary catterpilars and as we have been clearing trees which are again dead and broken from the winter's storms and there is still a lot of the branches with bracken scattered around, but there is too much wind for me to go and burn them. I scooped up the catterpillars with a dustpan and brush, and shut them in a plastic bag, which I disposed of (stupid, should have burned them), then had to go to Lisbon to apply for a replacement ID card and being in a hurry I did not even bother to wash my hands before putting some face cream on. By the time I was being photographed for the ID some hours later you could see some blisters on my face, and my hands and wrists were in great discomfort.
    It all clicked together this morning reading your article. The catterpillar proccession was coming from the general area of the kennel where the bitch died; at times there were a lot of beetles in that kennel, my rashes and breathing problems that keep me awake at night. We have cut down many trees, so has the neighbour on the other side, which must mean there are now enough catterpillars moving around for us to see them. But at least now we can try and do something about it, rather than sit here feeling romantically about the fresh air and the pines.
    Thank you for posting this page.

    ( Note by Selwyn. Fernada quoted the product name suggested by Cooperativa Agricola. I did some research of the product and found that it is an insecticide which is poisonous to insects, birds, aquatic life and more. It also carries many health warnings for people and must be kept out of reach of children. The company who produce it are also working with the larger chemical companies who have no regards for human health or the environment. I have no desire to promote, endorse or publicize any such products.

    Fernanda ended her comment by asking if anyone knows anything about xxxxxxxx. The answer is yes. I do. And I am very glad that you choose not to use this environmental poison.)

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Fernanda,
      I am sorry to hear about the sad way your dogs life ended. My dog Tess also died a few years ago and I believe it was through eating something that was poisoned. A friend from Switzerland who was camping next to me had two young dogs and one of them also died at the same time and in the same way. We were not anywhere near pine trees. The vet said it could be poisoning but was not able to help. We watched both dogs die a horrible death. I put both dogs in a rucksack, carried them to the top of a hill with a view to the west coast and buried them.
      I am sorry about editing out the product details in your comment but I hope I have explained clearly why I have done this.
      I will email you links to the product website and also the email address of Chris Yates who has a background in homeopathic medicine and is willing to help you for free with your allergies. I have spoken with Chris about this.
      This is going a bit off topic but unfortunately many Doctors, whether they believe in 'alternative medicine' or not, do not have any financial incentives for getting involved. A doctor friend once cancelled a squash match we were due to play because he had won a holiday in Tenerife for selling or prescribing the most of a certain drug in his area for that particular month! So I am not surprised you were ignored.
      Thank you for sharing your story

      Reply
  15. Heather in England

    My son, near Alicante, is suffering these pests now. He has had to drive backwards and forwards over them as they encroached his garden, even though he put grease along the border. He now takes his small dog to work with him every day and leaves it in his van whilst working, taking it out several times each shift. Safer than leaving him at home. I am in England but get a weekly report on these horrible creatures. I think they only process for a few weeks but one minute is enough to kill a dog if it goes near them.

    Reply
  16. Chris Yates

    In answer to the question about Apis for the effects of this insect, the potency should be as high as you can buy. 200C if possible, 2 x day. However 200C is not normally sold o.t.c. and so buy the highest they will give you and administer it more often 3 or 4 x day. 200C can be obtained from HELIOS Pharmacy in Tunbridge Wells, UK. Details on their website and you can phone or e mail your order through. Apis is good for any sting, insect bite (and also a good kidney remedy to boot!).

    Reply
  17. Kathy Dorrell

    We live in Calpe near Alicante in Spain and have lots of pine trees near us. Our cat came walking towards me this afternoon slowly and drooling. I assumed he had been in contact with the caterpillars, which was the case when I immediately took him to the vet. He was given an anti inflamatory injection as his whole face and tongue were swollen. The vet has called this evening and the swelling has slightly gone down although he wants to keep him in over night. As long as there are no complications, he will be allowed home tomorrow. Getting our George to the vet so quickly hopefully saved his life!

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Kathy,
      thank you for telling us about your cat George and his experience with the processionary caterpillar.
      It is the first time a cat owner has reported an incident here. I think cat owners with pine trees near the house have more of a problem controlling the animals movements than dog owners, especially as they like to climb trees. Although as Sarah says, physical contact with the caterpillar is not the only way an animal can be affected. I hope George gets well and comes home soon, but I cant help wondering, what will you do then?

      Reply
    2. Chris Yates

      Getting your dog to the vet so quickly certainly did save your pets life. I can personally vouch for that. Kind regards, Chris Yates.

      Reply
  18. Sarah Evans

    Hi thank you for the very useful article, however we have recently moved to Portugal and have a large pine tree in the garden, about 7 nests are visible, we recently got an 8 week French bulldog puppy (last week) that is not allowed out till 12 weeks, my husband was burning some of the nests yesterday and today our puppy is listless, I have literally just got back from the vets and my puppy has to stay the week due to getting the catterpiller virus, so my point is they don't have to have physical contact to become infected. Please be aware.
    Sarah.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Sarah.
      I am very sorry to hear about your puppy becoming ill.
      I hope for a full recovery and can come home soon.
      A week in the vets seems like a long time, but I am not a vet.
      A couple of things I would like say is that first, the caterpillars do not carry a virus, but they do have a poison which is on each of the hairs of the caterpillar. It is contact with the hairs and therefore the poison which can cause the physical body to react. It is the severe reaction to the toxins which can cause Anaphylaxis.
      As you correctly state, an animal or human does not need to have physical contact with the caterpillar to have a reaction. It is the hairs which are the problem. The hairs are very fine and shed inside the nest as the caterpillar grows and matures. So even when the caterpillars have left the nest, the hairs remain inside. Disturbing the nest, for example removing it to put on a fire has the potential to displace the hairs which can be carried by even the gentlest of breeze to land on the ground some distance from the tree. And of course the hairs if not immediately burnt, can rise with the warm air from the fire and smoke. The hairs from the caterpillar can also get left behind as it travels down the tree and along the ground to a spot where they can go underground. Some people have said that the caterpillars have the ability to shoot out the hairs if they feel threatened as it is their defence mechanism against predators. I am not sure about this.
      As Sarah has said, Please be aware and I will also add, Please be prepared.
      Thank you for your comment Sarah and best wishes to your puppy.

      Reply
  19. Tony

    I have two pine trees in my garden in Andalucía. I have had a few nests and have destroyed them using a butane blow lamp. You have to be careful that non of the dust blows near you but the heat is so high it completely burns them.

    Reply
  20. Sue Frankland

    Hi - lots of these beasties here, in the Charente, SW France. Most locals know and are aware and warn their visitors. Many of us have Gites or holiday homes to let, so an important tip for others - PLEASE - put up lots of signs &/or photos to let all your visitors know about them and be aware of the dangers. They are a brilliant way to ruin a holiday.
    Sue.

    Reply
  21. Alan williams

    Hi I am a arboriculturalist writing an article on pine processionary moth in UK. If anyone has any up to date information on controls or how far north in France they have been sighted I would be very grateful please email me at gardencare4you@yahoo.co.uk
    many thanks

    Reply
  22. That's a very interesting article and thank you for taking the time to post it. We live in the Aude, S/E France and have about 20 pines in our garden and most of them get the cocoons in them. I have had the past 10 years of living here trying to get rid of them. I have been caught by them once when I was collecting cones and once was one more than enough.

    There are a couple of minor corrections though. The moths are weak fliers and do no fly very high at all. They can only get to the lower branches of the trees and so their eggs are laid low down. They start eating the needles from the day they are born and form small bivouacs on the lower branches. They go through 5 stages of the caterpillar growth and the first couple of stages the hairs have not developed and so they are not dangerous. Since September this year I have cut over 60 small cocoons out of our trees and now they have progressed higher and higher and I will have to call in a professional to cut the rest out. That will be in Feb/April next year. I have also fitted 17 traps, the first one was bought, but at over 57€ I decided to make the rest! If you google 'pine processionary caterpillar traps' they are the ones that form a collar around the tree.

    One of the best sites I have found for info on is
    web.cortland.edu/fitzgerald/PineProcessionary.html

    There is a lot of info on them if you google it.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Jonzjob
      Thank you for the extra information I appreciate it.
      Good luck with the caterpillars. I hope you don't get caught again.
      I looked at your website and the things you have made from wood are beautiful.
      Maybe you could be making and selling processionary caterpillar traps as well as
      beautiful wooden works of art.
      Thanks for the comment
      And a happy new year

      Reply
  23. Lesley Openshaw

    Thank you so much for this information. We live in France and the unseasonably warm weather has bought out some of these caterpillars. 3 dogs hers. Older one did not go near them. Spaniel obviously had some contact, but our young Vizsla was obviously in distress. Having read your article have just come back from the vets. Hopefully a full recovery will be made.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Lesley. You are very welcome for the information. Glad it was useful.
      I have noticed some new nest in Portugal and Spain in the last few weeks.
      On the mountain above Algodonales in Andalucia I saw a very young pine tree only about 10 feet tall and nests
      at head height next to a footpath.
      It was not easy to walk past the tree without brushing up against it.

      People need to be aware of the problems associated with not only dogs, but also
      humans and the caterpillars for the next few months.
      Hope all went well with your dog and A Happy New Year to you.

      Reply
  24. Jane

    Thanks all for contributions. Just off to the Algarve and plan to tackle local Camara (council) about any control methods. Will feed back anything I find out but as our huge pine tree is in next doors abandoned garden I fear no one will cut it down. We are taking axle grease in preparation to coat on trunk but the wretched things fall from the branches January onwards and those that fall next door then climb the wall into our garden as well.

    Does anyone know if the ones that get underground to pupate are dangerous as I cultivate the soil in the area they fall. Also my dog digs there if the mood takes her (not when they are active).

    Reply
  25. Jane

    We have a house in the Algarve. Next door but overhanging our garden is a pine tree in a house that has been left empty for 2 years that is now dying. The caterpillars came down last January all over our garden which meant our dog could not go out safely. I had numerous itchy lumps and bumps trying to do some gardening. We had lines of them crossing the terrace and drive and climbing the house walls as well as festooning the plants.

    Anyone know if the local councils will spray or fell trees that are infected ? They actually make our house uninhabitable Christmas onwards and our neighbour had to attend hospital after cutting another tree in our garden and being affected by the caterpillars.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Jane
      Thanks for the comment.
      I don't know where in the Algarve you live but the Albufeira Camara (council) have been putting up nesting boxes in the trees to attract birds which feed on the Pine Processionary Caterpillar. I hope that other councils not only in the Algarve, but Portugal, Spain, France and other countries will also start to do the same. Nesting boxes are biologically and environmentally friendly and should last for several years. This would make financial sense as it would require only a one time visit to hang up a box and the birds can feed on caterpillars from many of the Pine trees in the area.
      I doubt that any council will cut down a pine tree because of caterpillar nests. But because your neighbours tree is overhanging your garden maybe you can present a different case. For example, is it a fire risk? Is there a danger of it falling on your house? If the tree is nearly dead, maybe next year the adult Pine Processionary moth will not choose to lay its eggs in this tree as there would not be enough food to sustain the life of the young caterpillars. Just a couple of thoughts off the top of my head. Hope this helps
      All the best to you and I hope next year you can enjoy your garden in peace.
      Selwyn

      Reply
    2. Chris Yates

      Hi. I'm Chris. I've lived in the Algarve for 15 yrs and have a HUGE pine tree at the front gate of my garden. It could be a 100 yrs old. I noticed the caterpillars around yr 3 of my being here. Long trails of them and massive mounds of them trying to burrow into the soft soil around the lawn area. I knew from the locals that this was not good, so my modus was to sweep them up and throw them in the toilet or down the fossa. This seemed to work as the following year I inspected the tree and surrounding areas every day for months and found barely none (I had been told that the moth, after the pupa stage, returns to the tree from which it came and the whole cycle starts again). There were about four yrs and the tree seemed infestation free. I then had a domestic situation which hit me for a few years sorting it out and stopped my vigilance. This year (2016), my house painter noticed them again, so I started the procedure again, not expecting to find many. To my horror, there are thousands each day now which I shovel up and throw in the fossa. Also, I've never known them come down from the tree at this time of year (end Jan.), so that was a surprise. We bought a double-sided broad band to put around the trunk of the tree (which seems to be in vogue here this year) and I've found it to be worthless. The caterpillars simply find a deep grouve in the bark to descend, which circumvents anywhere where the band doesn't touch.

      Sadly, last Thursday, our little Yorkie terrier came into contact with a caterpillar somehow. The first symptoms were vomitting and drooling. I didn't pay much attention as dogs 'do that'. Later that evening, we noticed she really was not herself. Lethargic and looked extremely ill. I thought that we would see how she was in the morning and, if no better, take her to the vet. Then, just before bedtime, I remembered that my son, who took her for the walk when she vomitted, had had to open the gate near the tree. I asked him was it remotely possible that she could have come into contact with a caterpillar. He said that when he was unlocking the gate he heard her yelp but that's not unusual either. By this time it was 10pm. I decided to call the emergency vet. number. She told us to bring the dog to the clinic immediately. At 10.30 her tongue was swollen and going black and her drooling contained blood. She was given cortizone and put on a drip and kept in overnight. None of us expected her to live. This dog is TINY. The vet told us that if she lived, she would likely lose part of her tongue, maybe all. It was awful. Next morning, we went to visit her and she was no better. Later that evening, we went again and she was showing slight signs of life. The vet said she could come home just for one night to see if that would help her, being in familiar surroundings and smells, etc. It did help her. This morning, we took her back and the vet was very pleased. She had eaten a little of the 'rescue' food she had given us (very 'sloppy' food), but we had had to use a syringe to give her water but the vet thought she would be ok at home and gave us a prescription for antibiotic syrup and a pain killer in syrup form as her tongue was still too swollen for her to drink by herself. The vet told us to call immediately if there was any worstening. This evening, she suddenly did a turn around. Raided the cat biscuits, the older dog's biscuits and drank a mother-load of water by herself and tail wagging all the while. Even did a pooh and then crashed out fast asleep. We are now Saturday and the vet wants to check her out on Monday. Her tongue is recovering it's pink colour. I tell this whole story to illustrate that action must be taken immediately. If we had left her overnight, as we had more or less decided to do (the hour being late), she would certainly have died.

      I'm still shovelling up thousands of these caterpillars but they are affecting me moreso than they did before. I'm itchy and the condition is affecting parts of my body where the hairs (which the caterpillars are able to shoot out when threatened or disturbed) could not possibly get to - so it's a systemic reaction. Perhaps I'm foolish, but I will continue for this season to sweep them and drown them. However, I've taken note of the axle grease solution suggested by others - it makes more sense to me to thoroughly paint the grooves in the bark and I'll do it in Nov. Dec. this year and see what happens. Our local Camera here are not interested. Gardeners don't want to do it either as you have to wear the equivalent of Hazmat suits to deal with the nests, and even that is not foolproof. Rentokil here might be able to help, but I have yet to investigate that. People have visited us during this time and have complained about itching and rashes and they've been nowhere near these creatures - only me. I think it's in the air, especially on windy days. They are beautiful and intelligent creatures - ingenious - but lethal to humans and animals. Everybody on this blog has expressed dire warnings. I add mine. They're lethal. As a PS, I would highly recommend Arnica and Apis, as others have mentioned. I feel that Arnica was what turned our little one right around this evening. But Apis is the one for the first apparent symptoms. Any potency will do. High (200c) 1 x day. Low (30c) 3 x day for several days until recovery sets in. But VET FIRST.

      Thanks for reading & God bless.

      Reply
      1. Post author

        Hi Chris,
        Thank you so much for taking the time to tell everyone of your awful experience.
        You had me on the edge of my chair and I was expecting the worse.
        When you said about raiding the cat biscuits I relaxed and had a big smile.
        I truly appreciate the details and feel that you have provided very
        valuable information for all the readers of this article.
        Thank you very much

        Reply
        1. Chris Yates

          You are welcome Selwyn and I admire your tenacity and enthusiasm to help with this dreadful problem. I had another idea and it's this: there were terrible fires in the Monchique area, as you may well remember. I have been told that vast plantations of pines have been planted to replace the lost landscape in favour of Eucalyptus, which is VERY thirsty and the oil more volatile to fires. So, from the foregoing, if true, would mean that in the very near future the processonary caterpillar problem will only increase exponentially.

          Kind regards

          Chris

          y

          Reply
  26. Issia Jordan

    We had the same problem in Cascais. These caterpillars are bad for horses as well as dogs and cats. There sticky tape is wound in a band around the trunks of the pine trees, preventing the caterpillars from getting down to the ground. Axle grease sounds easier though! If they fall to the ground, the best thing is to pour petrol or alcohol over them and light it. Horrible, but effective.

    Reply
  27. Im travelling from the UK through France and Italy down to Malta with my dog and didn't even know about these catterpillars. Im quite worried now ...has anyone done this trip enough to be concerned about these horrible things.

    Reply
  28. Lizzie

    Thanks everyone for all your comments. I moved to Alforja a year ago and have never seen this before. I have 2 beautiful Goldens that adore our walks on the trails that are invested with these cacoons. Me and the dogs feel like prisoners now that we cant go in the mountains anymore. I wonder if we can speak with our Ajuntament??
    I also thought if I could take them to the beach but am not sure if it is allowed?? Very frustrated. We rock climb and now I dont even want to take the dogs.
    When is it safe?
    Please help

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Lizzie. I understand your concerns and frustations. I think speaking to the local authority is a good idea and maybe the more people that do the better. I also would speak with your vet and the locals, especially other dog owners. One thing to keep in mind is that the nest will remain in the trees for a long time after the caterpillars have left to go underground. Only a close inspection will tell if the nest has been vacated. I wouldn't recommend anyone poking a nest to find out.
      As for taking the dogs to the beach I am sure there will be local rules for your area. Some beaches allow dogs all year, some only in the low season and some not at all. Again speak to the locals and look for signs at the beach. Tourist information staff maybe able to help you.
      Good luck

      Reply
  29. syd harris

    Hi. here in Monchique (algarve) we have the processionary caterpiller..I have found that (along with many others) GREASING the trunk of the tree (a ring around the tree) stops the caterpiller reaching ground. Do not strip the bark back to bare wood just smooth the bark and use ordinary axle grease.(used is just as effective)...the caterpillers circle and die. as far as i can see there is no return to that tree?? the grease lasts for 2/3 yrs , so maybe acts as a deterrent?? Do this in Jan when the nests begin to appear!!!!! use caution if later in jan or feb,as they might already be moving up and down the tree, if so use rubber gloves (wahing up type) and burn after use.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Syd. Thanks for this information. I was told about this technique a couple of weeks ago by Peter W. He was very certain that this method works. Let me know if you see the caterpillars going around in circles as I would like to video this. Also the bark of pine trees is very knobly for want of a better word and smoothing the bark as Syd describes and then pressing the grease into any gaps all around the circumference of the tree is important.

      Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Sally. Thanks for the question. My honest answer is- I don't know. The next time I am passing by the vets I will call in to ask the question. In the meantime I suggest that if it is possible to buy Apis in varying strengths to get the strongest. Sorry for the useless answer.

      Reply
  30. Sheila Roberts

    I have recently travelled from the UK down through France and through to southern Spain. The further south we travelled the more we saw of these creatures in their little white parcels. There seem to be more this year than ever. They are very dangerous and something should be done to eliminate them. I hate killing anything but is there anything alive that can feed on them, or do they do ANY good at all?

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Sheila, thanks for your comment. There are a couple of birds that feed on them, these being Crested Tits and Cuckoos. Bats may eat the moths and Hoopoes will eat the pupa. I have heard of aeroplanes flying over large forested areas that are heavily infected and spraying chemicals mixed with diesel. Pheremone traps to attract the moths can be used. I know for sure the pheremone traps work for Palm Beetles.

      Do they do any good? Well they don't seem to play a large part in the food chain. They certainly can kill trees, cause health problems for people and animals. Maybe the big chemical companies are happy because they sell lots of chemicals and the retailers make commissions, etc etc. There is always some good in something even if not imediately obvious.

      Reply
    2. Shirley Allen

      We travelled down through France in a motorhome to Costa Blanca and then on to Costa Brava from 4th March until 25 April. We stayed for 4 enweeks in a large campsite in Guardamar (Marjal Camping) and were given a site under pine trees. We have 2 Shi Tzus and had never heard of processionary caterpillars so weren't concerned about the trees. Most of the occupants of the campsite were long-term residents and many had dogs and they told us the danger of the caterpillars and said the season was almost over. Also the trees are "protected" and cannot be chopped down. I saw what was described as empty nests above our site and one morning a solitary caterpillar which my Shi Tzu made a beeline for - luckily I grabbed him and my neighbour trod the caterpillar into the ground. I immediately went to the office and reported this incident whereupon we were moved straight away to another site with no trees at all and the manager said that someone would go and spray the trees. This did not happen and a family who had a large tent and 2 young children moved onto our old site within an hour. On our way back to Calais we stayed overnight in an Aire on the A75 (Lafayette) and there were many pine trees with massive caterpillar nests.

      Reply
  31. Dario

    Hello everyone , thank you for your long story about your experience with catterpillars, i live in the algarve and we have lots and lots of them , specially here where pine trees are the largest tree population here, i luckily found a way to eleminate them for few years , i went to each pine tree around my area and cut the branches and put them all in a pile and burned them , unfortunally i had to do this because they are just too many , an example of that is a early spring day when i woke up i was getting ready to go to work just to find my cars wheels completly coverd with them , so many of them i couldnt even see the wheel , anyways thats my experience with them , either then them being a huge pest , they are quite beautiful yet dangerous creatures .

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Thanks Dario. Wow! I bet that was a sight to see. Didn't take a photo by any chance. I think you are brave to go around cutting branches from the trees. I think you don't need me to tell you to be carefull.

      Reply
    2. Fernanda Birrell

      So how do you cut them? Can't do it with a saw as it would shake the tree. We have to get doing this here in Janas, as well as using axle grease.

      Reply
  32. Ian W Mitchell

    Lots and lots in Southern France. Some time ago the local Fire Services would come and deal with them, noadays - not sure!

    Reply
  33. Lyn Cox

    Yes they are here in Andalucia - very nasty and some folks even carry syringes with antidote for the caterpillars. Recently we drove to Santander from the south of Spain and we saw the nests all the way up to the north in the pine trees!!! Are they taking over? Surely someone could invent a sort of 'flame thrower' type machine which could aim at the nests and destroy them. Lots of horrid stories of dogs being affected - yes indeed - wear a hat as I understand when ready the whole nest falls out of the tree to the ground!! gruesome!!! Definitely keep your dog away from pine trees. I did hear they were in Richmond Park????????? Lyn

    Reply
  34. Chris .g

    An interesting article , I live in Turkey and these things are very common ,on Sunday whilst walking my dog on a lead she happened to come into contact with these creatures and the reaction was almost immediate ,she started vomiting and was in great distress her tongue became swollen her mouth and lips extremely sore managed to get her to our animal hospital for treatment ,put on a drip several injections one of which was cortisone and an iodine balm to put round her mouth , she is still ill but slowly recovering will be a few more days I think but very lucky. Be warned they are very nasty and dangerous .. Chris

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for telling us your story. It is the first time I have heard about the Pine Processionary Caterpillar in Turkey . I hope your dog makes a full recovery. Preventing your pet animals from coming into contact with these caterpillars can be dificult, even walking a dog on the lead is no guarantee as you have shown.

      Know the risk and be prepared is the best advice I can give to anyone.

      Reply
  35. irisdelmonte

    We have a house in the Creuse/ France and on our way back to Calais, we have repeatedly seen these white balls in the fir trees around the Orleans area. Not knowing exactly what they were, I researched and came across your site! Thank you for writing this informative article - we make sure that we and the dog stay well clear of these caterpillars!

    Reply
    1. Post author

      I think when you become aware of them you will start to notice the
      nests more and more. I am hoping to grab some videos of the caterpillars as they leave the nest. Should be happening very soon. Maybe the weather needs to warm up a bit but March is quite likely. So keep a look out.

      Reply
  36. Amanda Rowe

    Although I am English I live in the north of Portugal where we have many acres of pine forests. I am aware of these caterpillars and i am aways careful with my dogs. Unfortunately recently, unbeknown to me, one of dogs must have been close to a caterpillar and I either grooming her or stroking her must have got some of the dust on me. I started to scratch my face and neck very badly. By the next day I could not open my eyes,and had what looked like a bad case of sunburn. Had to go to the doctors for course of antihistamine tablets.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Thanks Amanda for the comment. A friend keeps antihistamine tablets at home just in case. I think it might be a good idea to keep them in the car, handbag or wallet. Hope you made a quick recovery

      Reply
  37. Marie

    These nasty beasties are also in Southern Spain. I was told to beware of the catapillars in February but have seen them in the pine trees in December!
    Happy Herby recovered!

    Marie

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Marie, Thanks for the comment.
      I saw a very tall pine tree just before chritmas with several nests in it. The caterpillars were fully grown and ready to leave. The nests were only discovered after the tree was felled. The nests and caterpillars were promptly thrown onto a bonfire.

      Reply
  38. Hello Selwyn
    We have these nasty little creatures in Northern France now. Last year Herby dog was hospitalized for 3 days after sniffing around the base of a pine tree with a nest in. All happened so fast. Thankfully Herby made a full recovery .

    Jenny

    Reply

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