Killer Katerpillars!

Isn’t it odd which posts get attention? Quite a lot of people have viewed the post about crisp flavours, & opinion is divided over the goat cheese crisps…Maybe I should try them instead of knocking them!

Otherwise life is pootling on here. We had snow yesterday morning so I set off for Clkermont in boots and thick jumper. By the afternoon the sun was out and I was more than a little warm! Today it was below freezing in the early morning but now it’s beautiful! I think I will take my friend’s dog, Marvin, for a good long walk today.

I was thinking about taking him on one of my favourite walks, but the problem is that this goes through pine woodland. You may ask why this is a problem (I hope you do, as I’m going to tell you!) This is the season for caterpillars to be out,  and one of the nastiest little caterpillars is waking up, and definitely doing its stuff….

The Thaumetopoea pityocampa or Pine processionary caterpillar is awake. We saw some of these little buggers when we were on the Isle de Pourquerolles, and, even though they look like funny, fluffy little beasties as they process nose-to-tail, they are EVIL!

These caterpillars spend winter in their nests, but come Spring, they come down from the trees to continue their life cycle. They literally process along the ground, nose to tail, following each other in a long chain. They eventually disperse and burrow underground, but it’s during this chain part of their life cycle that danger lurks for human and pet alike.

As you can see, the caterpillars have  orange brown backs with bluish grey bands and bluish grey protrusions in pairs at each segment, these protrusions have little bunches of hairs “growing” from them and it is these “hairs” that can be a danger. These irritant hairs contain a highly allergenic protein which in humans can cause reactions ranging from mild itching to anaphylactic shock, all contact with sensitive skin regions, your mouth, nose or eyes should be avoided. Show caution with your animals, dogs in particular may sniff them and this should be avoided at all cost, Necrosis of the tongue has been observed in some domestic animals and severe swelling may occur causing breathing difficulties.

Here they just look fascinating (and they are!) and cute as they bimble along, but they’re not!

I have read lots and lots of horror stories about these beasties, and how smaller inquisitive dogs (that’s Marvin!) have died having sniffed or licked these caterpillars. So I’m a tad dubious about allowing Marvin off the lead while there’s a danger of meeting them. However, I do think he’d like a nice long walk, and maybe if I keep him on the lead in the pine-y parts of the walk, we’ll be okay.



One thought on “Killer Katerpillars!

  1. Yikes! This information gives me the creeps. I remember big caterpillar nests in our birch trees when I was a child. When people dream of having butterfly gardens, my mind always goes to creepy caterpillars. (shiver!)

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