Kiersten Rowland

Adventures, Travel & Photography

The trouble with Pine Processionary Caterpillars

21 March 2009

Reading time: 2 mins

Whilst the others were skiing down to the Loma de Dilar from the Sierra Nevada ski centre I had a fantastic drive through the Cumbres Verdes in stunning scenery and started my walk up to meet them from the Cortijuela.

Trevenque and the Los Alayos de Dilar ridge
Trevenque and the Los Alayos de Dilar ridge

I was on my own without the dogs for a change, which enabled me to get to see some wildlife before it got frightened off by the dogs. I walked up through a pine forest with a stream running through it and plenty of melting snow. I saw lots of birds but im afraid I dont know what they were, I also saw 2 Red Squirrels, one who sat on branch but I couldnt get the lense cap off the camera quick enough so missed out on that photo. Along the track up I came across many lines of Pine Processionary Caterpillars so I was glad I didnt have the dogs with me.

Pine Processionary Caterpillars
Pine Processionary Caterpillars

These harmless looking caterpillars (which turn into moths) can be very dangerous to pets (mainly dogs as they are inquisitive) and some humans. When disturbed they shed their fine hairs which irritate our skin causing very itchy rashes, if the hairs get into the eye, nose or throat area, then im sure you can work out the trouble you may get into. Even just sitting under a tree with the nests in can cause you to get a rash. Children have been known to go temporarily blind from rubbing their eyes after picking them up and many dogs have lost their lives or part of their tongue!

Pine Processionary Caterpillar nest
Pine Processionary Caterpillar nest

They are a big problem in Spain and are devastating forests because they make many nests in one tree and eventually kill it, it seems to be a big problem in this area. These next few photos show you the devastation in just a few trees, let alone the forest. There is alot of information on the internet about these little critters.

A nearly dead pine tree with many pine processionary caterpillar nests
A nearly dead pine tree with many pine processionary caterpillar nests
Pine processionary caterpillar nests in trees
Pine processionary caterpillar nests in trees

So after pottering my way up, taking many useless photos, the skiers eventrually showed up in the far distance, so I sat down and started taking more photos, but this time of them who were very surprised to see that I had found them in the middle of know where.

The 3 ski tourers making their way down to me
The 3 ski tourers making their way down to me
Determined to ski as far as possible towards the forest
Determined to ski as far as possible towards the forest

Comments

Graham: Who`d have thought something so harmless looking as those caterpillars could cause so much harm to humans and animals.

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