Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Very Scary Caterpillar

These are processionary caterpillars. They  march down a tree each morning and then hang out by the swimming pool here.  As their name suggests they follow each other around as if they're having their own little carnival.

I'm fascinated by them. Apparently a scientist did an experiment once. He arranged the caterpillars in a head to tail circle with a food supply on the outskirts for when they got the munchies. They carried on doing trotting around  for an entire week.

I think this might be a nest!
So cute!' you may be thinking. But hold your horses. The Spanish around these parts view these mini beasts as devil spawn and zap their nests whenever they come across them. We've learnt this week that their hairs, which they can eject by the way, cause severe skin reactions.  They present a particular danger to dogs who have had to have their tongues cut out after they've necrosed after taking a lick. Worse still they die if they injest them.   It suggests a horrific take on Eric Carle's hungry caterpillar who was pretty unassuming.  On Monday he ate a dog's paw; on Tuesday he ate two bollocks of an unsuspecting naturist.  You get the gist.  The lesson is don't let your hound run around or sit down naked in the pine forests around these parts.

We didn't know this when we arrived. During our first lunch outside one fell on Salty Dog's lap. 'Oh how sweet!' she exclaimed 'Look at his lovely little face.' She then proceeded to stroke him as if it were a fluffy kitten.  No ill effects yet. I think she might have had a lucky escape!


  1. I grew up in Spain so I was well versed in Not Touching the processionarycaterpillars (incidentally at primary school a friend thought it would be fun to hit a nest with a tennis racket. He ended up off school for a fortnight after his face swelled up in an allergic reaction to them).

    You may be interested to know we now have these in the UK! In part due to warming temperatures, in part due to plant transport.
    Kew Gardens was full of signs asking people not to touch them two years ago as of course the general public in the UK historically hasn't come across them. Kew also had a big control programme going as they didn't want them damaging their trees! I didn't see any signs last summer so I hope they managed to get them under control.
    Phew sorry about the essay!!

    1. Really interesting. Will not be playing any racquet sports around those nests ! x

  2. It's early for them, I think...They're usually out in spring. My friend seems very laissez faire about letting her dog run around in pine forests in spring. I'd be very worried.

    1. So would I and I'm not usually the fretful type. x