Processionary Caterpillar FAQs

THE processionary caterpillars have become a significant source of concern for people living near forested areas. These insects are not only harmful to trees, but also pose a health risk to humans and animals. This guide aims to provide detailed answers to frequently asked questions about these caterpillars, with an emphasis on environmentally friendly and effective management methods.

What are processionary caterpillars?

Pine processionary caterpillars, known scientifically as Thaumetopoea pityocampa, are moth larvae that move in long lines, hence their name “processionaries”. These caterpillars are particularly known for their stinging hairs which can cause severe allergic reactions in humans and animals.

What are the risks associated with processionary caterpillars?

The main risks linked to the presence of processionary caterpillars are of a health nature. Contact with their stinging hairs can cause symptoms in humans and animals such as itching, skin rashes, and in more serious cases, difficulty breathing. It is therefore crucial to be able to identify and control them effectively.

How to prevent the appearance of processionary caterpillars?

Prevention is essential to limit the proliferation of processionary caterpillars. It is recommended to regularly monitor the presence of nests in pines and other trees likely to be infested and to use pheromone traps to intercept the moths before they lay their eggs.

What natural methods to control processionary caterpillars?

To combat processionary caterpillars while preserving the balance of the ecosystem, several methods can be used:

  • Installation of nest boxes to attract predatory birds, such as certain species of tits.
  • Use of entomopathogenic nematodes that infect and kill caterpillars, harmless to other animals and plants.
  • Application of resin to the trunk of trees to trap caterpillars as they descend.

These methods, used together, can significantly reduce the caterpillar population in an environmentally friendly way.

When should we act against processionary caterpillars?

The best time to intervene against processionary caterpillars is during the early stages of their development, ideally in fall or early spring. At these times, caterpillars are more vulnerable and treatments are generally more effective.

THE processionary caterpillars pose a serious problem both for the environment and for public health. Thanks to a proactive approach including prevention, monitoring and ecological treatment, it is possible to control their proliferation. It is crucial to stay informed and act quickly to minimize the impact of these pests.