|Photo: Antonio J. Sierra|
The following comes from an item we published in February 2010. The reason we repeat it today is that we have been receiving reports not only of the presence in force of these nasty little beggars, but we think they may have something to do, as well, with animal poisoning, dogs in particular. These caterpillars can be very dangerous to animals and people. "The pine processionary caterpillar (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) is known as ‘procesionaria del pino’ in Spanish and during late winter/early spring they will be coming out of the trees and forming conspicuous snakelike lines as they traverse the ground searching for soft soil to burrow into. They will not be far from a pine tree, but that does not mean that you will only see them in large pine woods, they are just as likely to be found in urbanisations and road side plantings wherever pine trees are present. There are several stages within their lifecycle but they are only dangerous to people and pets during the caterpillar phase. In the adult phase they are a simple and unremarkable, short lived moth which emerges in the summer and flies at night. The male moth is attracted to the female moth by pheromones that she emits. They will mate and a single female can then lay up to 300 tiny eggs which she attaches in a mass to a pine needle. Around one month later these eggs hatch into minute caterpillars. These larvae have 5 growth stages that are called 'instars'. They grow quickly in body size, moult their skin and that denotes the start of the next instar. You can read the whole article here.