We are now at the stage when the "processionary" also known as the "processionary caterpillar", starts to descend from the pine trees.
The Processionary Caterpillar, (Thaumetophoea pityocampa), is the main defoliating insect of pine and cedar trees.
Besides the harmful effect on these trees, they can cause serious public health problems due to the urticating action of their hairs.
When moving, the caterpillars release thousands of their urticating hairs increasing the possibility of intoxication of a person or an animal that comes into contact with them. The hairs act like needles, injecting the toxic substances into the skin or mucous membranes.
The signs and symptoms resulting from contact with urticating hairs cause an allergic reaction, whose severity depends on the intensity of exposure and the sensitivity of each person.
➡️Urticaria: irritation of the skin;
➡️Irritations in the eyes;
➡️Changes in respiratory system.
In case of allergy symptoms or contact with the insect, it is recommended:
➡️Wash the affected area with running water;
➡️Do not rub or scratch;
➡️Remove any urticating hairs of the caterpillar that may remain in contact with the skin, for example using an adhesive;
➡️Remove any clothing that has been in contact with the caterpillar and wash at a high temperature (60°C or higher);
➡️Get to a medical facility or hospital.
If necessary, contact the Poisons Information Centre 800 250 250 or call 112.
The processionary caterpillar may also affect pets. If you have a domestic animal and notice any changes (usually a change in the colour of the tongue) go to your vet.