Every year they arrive: the procession caterpillars, also known as pine moths.

They hatch from spider-web-like nests in pine trees when the time is right – usually around the end of January/February. And then they set off on their journey…

As cute as they look as they crawl along in a long line, contact with them is dangerous. Children should be particularly strongly warned here. The caterpillars are particularly common in the coastal regions – in the south-west of Mallorca in Pto Andratx, Camp de Mar, San Telmo, Paguera and Santa Ponsa.

The small silky hairs are covered in nettle venom and have small barbs. These attach themselves to the skin and cause very unpleasant skin reactions with wheals and severe itching. In many cases, hairs from the nests transported by the wind alone can trigger corresponding reactions and you may not even have seen a caterpillar.

Golfers on pine-covered golf courses or people who sweep up the yellow pine pollen know a thing or two about it. If inhaled, it can cause asthma-like attacks and shortness of breath. If you discover a nest (see photo) in your neighbourhood – please keep your hands off and don’t engage in false heroism. Instead, get in touch with your gardener or the town hall (Ayuntamento) and only let the experts handle it. Please only rinse away fallen nests or caterpillars with water and do not sweep them away with a broom.

Caterpillars are a particular danger for dogs and cats, as these four-legged friends like to sniff the caterpillars out of curiosity or even want to eat them. There is a danger to life with swelling of the tongue, breathing difficulties, etc., which is why it is urgently advisable to consult a vet immediately. If, despite all these warnings, you experience an allergic reaction, please contact your doctor immediately. The doctor will treat you immediately with medication to prevent the worst from happening.

By the way: if you have pine trees on your property, you can apply to your town hall to have the pine trees sprayed in autumn or set up pheromone traps to prevent the processionary caterpillars from multiplying in the first place. Alternatively, there is a so-called phytotherapy in which the pine trees are “inoculated” in autumn with a liquid that prevents the nests from forming, which is usually sufficient for 2 years. Sometimes prevention is better…

Ah yes, with caterpillars that are so hardy, you’d think it would turn out to be a beautiful butterfly.

Far from it, it’s just a larger beige-brown moth.

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