Tuesday, January 18, 2022
HomeLocal InfoThe processionary caterpillar is accelerating

The processionary caterpillar is accelerating

The pine processionary, one of the main problems facing the forest masses of this Peninsula, has apparently found an unexpected ally in climate change. 

High temperatures favor its expansion , which could extend the populations of this lepidopteran to habitats that until now remained safe from its devastating action.

Mireia Banqué, a technician from the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) of Catalonia, highlights that “before, this caterpliiar had an altitude limit, above which it is too cold for this species to be comfortable ”. This limit more or less coincides with the areas where Scots pines grow.

If the warming trend and the progressive rise in average temperature continue, the processionary would climb above the level where the black pine ( Pinus uncinata ) begin to appear. Until now has remained safe because it grows in an environment too cold for this dangerous creature.

With the appropriate temperatures, they not only expand their territories, but also the number of troops in each tree, which results in faster destruction of the forests . “With more heat they are more comfortable, they are more active and eat more,”.

Although it is still too early to anticipate what the behavior of the pest will be for next year, the outlook is not good.What happens in autumn is essential, since warm temperatures favour its growth. If autumn turns cold, then many will die. It is a species that is greatly influenced by the weather”.

Effects on animals and people

Processionary caterpillars can also be dangerous for people and animals. When they are moths they are harmless to humans, it is only during their development as a caterpillar that care should be taken with this insect . The moths hunt for pine trees or oaks on summer nights, lay clusters of eggs, and the process begins.

It is when they leave the trees that most people and pets come into contact with the caterpillars, which can have very painful consequences because their hair produces hives , this is their defense mechanism against predators.

Children and adults should not get too close if they see a nest of processionaries. When humans come into contact with these hairs, they can experience reactions ranging from mild inflammation, irritation, respiratory distress and even to severe anaphylactic shock .

If the hairs come in contact with your skin, a rash forms that can cause itching, pain, redness, and burning that can last up to three weeks. If you have any contact with these insects, you should go to the nearest hospital for patient care.

Pets such as dogs and cats are also victims of processionaries as they can get too close to the caterpillars and have contact with the hairs through their legs. They will lick them when it starts to itch. Once the hairs are in the mouth, they will itch, swell, and even vomit. Look out for symptoms of small white spots in the mouth and on the tongue, excessive drooling, and discomfort when chewing. Quick treatment by a vet is essential.

Source: Verdey Azul

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