...the processionary pine moth caterpillar has arrived.
CLIMATE CHANGE FLORA AND FAUNA AND THE FOREST WORLD
As the year unfolds , a procession of insects will arrive, some to delight us, and others to annoy. The first one though, has really made us groan. It is the pine processionary moth caterpillar. Look closely at the banner headline picture, and you will see long white hairs. These are serious irritants, and can cause allergic reactions in both humans and animals. If you read an earlier blog, you will know that Luigi, one of a neighbours beloved white ponies who used to graze in a nearby field, died last year, after investigating some of these creatures.
We have been expecting them for some time, ever since we spotted the first processionary nests in December , high up in our pine trees. This year threatens to be a bad one. Today I counted ten nests in the large tree that stands adjacent to our house(see below.)
Today we spotted the first procession as it made its painstakingly slow progress, nose to tail, across our path in the forest. I counted eighty one caterpillars. Each one is attracted by the silken thread of the creature in front. Should the line be broken the whole procession grinds to a halt.
For months now, the young caterpillars have left their nest at night to forage on pine needles. Only now do they venture further from the nest . Soon they will end up in a tight bundle and burrow into the ground, where they will pupate. But here is the good news ....the adult moth will be entirely harmless.