Tree species affected by processionary caterpillars

Processionary caterpillars, particularly those of pine and oak, represent a serious threat to the health of trees in Europe. These insects are not only harmful to trees, but their stinging hairs can also cause health problems in humans and animals. This guide aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the tree species most vulnerable to these caterpillars, in order to better protect our forests and gardens.

The most affected pine species

THE pine processionary caterpillars mainly attack several types of pine, including Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), the black pine (Pinus nigra) and the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster). These trees suffer when caterpillars devour their needles, slowing their growth and reducing their resilience to disease and environmental stress.

Oak trees affected

About the oak processionary caterpillar, it mainly targets species such as the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) and the sessile oak (Quercus petraea). Infestation of these trees can lead to significant defoliation, leaving oaks vulnerable and weakened, which compromises their ability to recover and increases their susceptibility to other pests and pathologies.

Environmental and economic impact

The impact of caterpillars on these trees is not limited to the health of the plant. It also encompasses broader environmental consequences such as reduced biodiversity and negative effects on forest ecosystems. Economically, affected trees can lose their commercial value and the costs of managing infestations can be considerable for communities and private landowners.

Risk prevention and management

To combat the spread of processionary caterpillars, it is crucial to regularly monitor the health of trees likely to be infested. Employ integrated pest management methods, such as installing pheromone traps and using natural predators such as certain birds and insects. Using biological techniques such as Bacillus Thuringia (Btk) spraying can also reduce caterpillar populations without harming the ecosystem.

Conclusion: A call to action

Proactive management of processionary caterpillar populations is essential to protect our trees and forests. Collaboration between experts, local authorities and citizens is crucial to develop effective prevention and control strategies. Together, we can work to protect our green spaces for future generations.