Expats in Spain warned over influx of deadly pine processionary caterpillars

Published:  18 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: Moving, Spain
Expats in Spain’s Costa Blanca region are being warned about an upcoming danger from highly poisonous caterpillars.

According to a local expat entomologist, next month will see the start of an invasion of deadly caterpillars capable of killing pets and injuring children if touched. The toxic pine processionary caterpillar has poisonous hairs which cause severe allergic reactions as well as eye damage and skin irritations in humans as well as proving fatal to dogs which sniff or eat the caterpillars. The barbed hairs contain thaumetopoeine, a deadly protein which causes breathing problems, necrosis of the tongue and can result in death.

The ghastly larvae are known to build huge, web-like nests in trees as well as for walking along the forest floor in long lines, and are due to invade Costa Blanca forests beginning next month and continuing until the end of February. Expats are being warned to check out their gardens for signs of the nests, carefully removing them and the branches on which they’re fixed. Care should be taken and the nests should be placed in strong plastic bags.

The larvaes' favourite locations are pine trees, hence the name, with pine forests best avoided from the end of January onwards. If expats have pine trees in their gardens, especially of they’re overlooking swimming pools, these should also be carefully checked. One heartbroken dog owner watched his much-loved rottweiler suffocating due to his swollen tongue after he’d eaten one of the deadly larvae. Expat vets in the region are advising dog owners to immediately head for their surgeries should they even suspect contact between their pets and the caterpillars.
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