Processional Caterpillars

8 Replies

Hi Everyone, I found a line of caterpillars in my garden this morning - they seemed to be happily marching from one end of the garden to the other. I was speaking to my neighbour and showed her the line, thinking it was pretty amusing! but she went absolutely crazy and told me how dangerous these creatures were, told me to burn them all and locked her dog inside! burning them seems like a pretty drastic and inhumane thing to do - should i take her advice or should i just leave them to it? cheers for any comments!

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tinkerbell-482145 1141662911

Dear Dillon!

I'm afraid your neighbour was NOT NOT NOT over-reacting! these creatures can be fatal to dogs and small children! Whatever you do you must not touch them! They have poisonous hairs on their backs which can cause forms of anaphylactic shock such as that of a peanut allergy. if breathed in or swallowed (not suggesting you'd do this but your neighbour's dog might!) they can cause an attack similar to that of an asthma attack, or they can poison the internal organs!

The fact that they are in your garden means that you may have a "nest" in a tree, this is most likely to be a pine tree as this is their food of preference! If there is even one nest, or sack as i believe is the technical term, there are probably several! You must burn these nests, attempting to cover them first with some sort of plastic bag as the hairs can still blow off when being burned and be inhaled or stick to clothes or washing that may be in your garden!

You must be very careful, do take care! it might seem like a shame on the poor little things, but it would be a bigger shame if one of your pets or children was to be seriously injured because of them!


richclever-482082 1141721720

Yes, definitely get rid of them. The processional caterpillar is extremely dangerous. If they have walked over a wall, their posion can still provoke a reaction if you brush against the wall hours later.

Look for what looks like a large cocoon in your trees (especially pine). This is the nest and needs to be destroyed.

As tinkerbell said, be very careful not to breath in the fumes from it as it can make you very ill indeed.


Garde Girl 1142020140

Agreed! these are EXTREMELY DANGEROUS - get rid of them quickly. Especially in these high winds the nests can blow down and into the garden.

MCDERW-482243 1143221454


I have just moved to France and I am renting a property for a while. I was startled yesterday by a very loud gun shot just outside my window, it was my landlord trying to shoot a caterpillar nest out of a very large pine tree in my garden!!!!!

I wonder what is more dangerous, the caterpillar nest or my landlord..


Maybe Mover 1143292879

Are these insects a constant hazard?

julianps-482116 1143302365

Yes - they nest in pine trees mainly and if your trees are free of them you can buy somehting to put around the trunk to stop them climbing. When they fall from the trees mid-summer they can as others have said cause problems with children and animals, and the poison upsets hardy adults as well.

Prune and kill at all costs; but I would leave shooting at them to more hardy locals, almost certainly the Mayor's brother!!

richclever-482082 1143312895

I find it hard to believe that someone who has lived here all their life would shoot them from the trees. Wow, he must be really stupid (I won't say brave, it's obviously stupidity).

If you find them, then I would get someone professional (not with a gun) to come and get rid. Really nasty things.


julianps-482116 1143375312

The French are very pragmatic people and rural French even more so. Lopping branches in high trees can be a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process and I could certainly believe some might feel a shotgun an easier solution.

Urban-myth has it that the beginning of the hunting season is for settling old scores and the first year we were here a local bank-manager was shot on the first week-end. Eyebrows were raised but it was felt overall that it was good-thing as the manager in question was no help to the local farmers.

Remember, we're talking here about a nation that thinks nothing of allowing pets (and smokers) into restaurants, and where drivers overtake on blind-bends. They're not big on imagination!

Love-em; hate-em; live with them.

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