Anti-processionary caterpillar guide

THE processionary caterpillars, distinguished by their synchronized walking in single file and the threat they represent because of their stinging and allergenic hairs, pose a serious challenge for nature spaces and private gardens.

These butterfly larvae, identifiable by their long stinging hairs, attack vegetation, cause serious damage to trees, and constitute a real threat to the health of our pets and ours.

They are particularly harmful during their larval phases where they feed voraciously on the needles of conifers. This guide offers you ecological, effective prevention and control solutions adapted to this infestation problem.

Identification of processionary caterpillars

To effectively combat pine processionary caterpillars, you must first learn to recognize them. Characterized by a remarkable sense of community, they are famous for their collective movement forming a long line – “processionary” caterpillars.

Their presence is most visible during the spring, when they come out of hibernation. Their nests, appearing as silky white cocoons, are generally hung above the ground, and more particularly on pines where the females lay their eggs.

Natural preventive methods

Prevent the invasion of processionary caterpillars can be done using several natural strategies. One solution is to encourage the nesting of predatory birds, such as tits, by installing nest boxes in the garden, as these birds are very fond of these caterpillars.

Additionally, the use of pheromone traps effectively helps control the caterpillar population. Installed at the start of summer, this type of trap can capture male butterflies and thus slow down reproduction.

Eco-friendly solutions for disposal

If an infestation of processionary caterpillars is confirmed, it is essential to favor eco-responsible solutions to stem their proliferation, minimizing the impact on local fauna and flora. One of the ecological means consists of using Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacteria harmless to humans and animals but harmful to caterpillars, by applying it precisely and at the right time. This is a powerful solution that will quickly control the infestation.

Tips for handling and cleaning

It is essential for your safety to never directly touch the processionary caterpillars with your hands, to avoid coming into contact with their stinging hairs. The best way to ensure the eradication of nests and disinfection of infested areas is to call on professionals.

These pros have the right equipment and have the skills to remove nests safely. If contact occurs, it is absolutely crucial to wash the affected area with plenty of lukewarm water and mild soap, and to seek medical attention if a severe allergic reaction occurs.

Long-term monitoring and actions

Vigilance and regular observation of your green spaces likely to shelter processionary caterpillars is an essential step for their prevention. Each spring, raising awareness around you to spot their nests early will help stop their spread.

It therefore follows that information and education of the community on the dangers linked to these caterpillars and on prevention methods are valuable tools for effective and preventive management on a local scale.

This guide is intended to be a practical tool to help you understand the behavior of processionary caterpillars, inform you about prevention and control methods and support you in protecting your environment. By taking an informed and proactive approach, it is possible to maintain the safety and health of your green space, whether it is a simple garden or a local park.