Author Topic: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars  (Read 1951 times)

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Offline Simon_100

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Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« on: January 23, 2016, 10:47 AM »
Also known as Thaumetopoea pityocampa

There has been a proliferation of 'nests' this year in my region, the Catalonian Pre-Pyrenees, but I got a big shock yesterday driving for the first time through the Boixols pass. The extensive pine forest there was decimated - literally at least 10% destruction - with great swathes* of dead trees visible across the mountainsides.

Later in the evening on the TV there was a brief report on a nature programme - don't know which one as I don't really watch TV! - saying that this pest has burgeoned in population as a result of the warm and extremely dry winter that we have had here - not a drop of rain for 82 days now!

What's the score nationwide?

Regs

Simon
* I've been looking forward to using ths word correctly for ages, it's shame it has to be in ths context  >:(
swath

swath |swä?; swô?| (also swathe |swäð; swôð; sw?ð|)
noun ( pl. swaths |swä?s; swô?s| or swathes |sw?ðz|)
1 a row or line of grass, grain, or other crop as it lies when mown or reaped.
• a strip left clear by the passage of a mowing machine or scythe : the combine had cut a deep swath around the border of the fields.
2 a broad strip or area of something : vast swaths of countryside | figurative a significant swath of popular opinion.
PHRASES
cut a swath through pass through (something) causing great damage, destruction, or change : a tornado cut a two-mile long swath through residential neighborhoods.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2016, 10:51 AM by Simon_100 »

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Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« on: January 23, 2016, 10:47 AM »

Offline elmussol

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Re: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2016, 23:14 PM »
We've been on our finca in Tarragona province for nine years now and I've seen the buggers (not just their cotton candy nests) here for the first time this week. Fortunately I was out of the shack before the dogs that morning and so managed to clear up before they got out. Nothing approaching a swath of devastation though.
pault's blurb: location: Xerta, Tarragona province, Catalunya
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Offline Maria

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Re: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2016, 17:32 PM »
Plenty of nests and caterpillars around the Sierra Nevada and the surrounding areas. One place where there has been less and less over the years is a forested area above Lanjaron where the Junta have been hanging more and more nest boxes. I am assuming that they are encouraging one of the natural predators back, I can't remember which Tit it is but I have a feeling it maybe the Coal Tit. Maybe someone can confirm  :noidea:

Maria

Offline Simon_100

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Re: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2016, 09:19 AM »
Hi, thanks for both of these replies and apologies for my late reply.

In fact just after I made the original post there was a feature about these bitxos on TV3, the Catalan TV channel, that pointed out the plague in specific areas, including ours, Pallars Jùssa, and saying that two successive mild winters were the culprits.

I haven't seen anything about introducing predators - but I'm all in favour of seeing a few more tits!  :angel:

Regs

Simon

Offline Maria

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Re: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2016, 10:44 AM »
ha ha that's really made me chuckle this morning Simon  :biggrin:

It makes sense I guess about mild winters, but these things seem to be able to withstand the cold pretty well too. Horrible things. My neighbour planted 3 pine trees near our house a couple of years ago and I am paranoid they will get the caterpillars, I must remember when I see him to ask if I can cut them down and replace with some nicer shrubs instead  :noidea:

Offline Juan-P

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Re: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2016, 23:18 PM »
The nests need to be managed by the owners of the trees/land.
I planted a row of 10 pine trees which grew into mature trees in 10 years. Each December I would carefully check the trees and any nests were cut out and burned. I took the tops out of the trees when they were too high for my ladders.

I would do another check in January, because I always missed one! As the years went on, there were less and less nests, I think because we were breaking the life cycle by destroying all the nests.

Anyone with pine trees needs to manage the nests, either manually or with some insecticidal spray applied directly to the nests.

Offline Simon_100

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Re: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2016, 09:42 AM »
ha ha that's really made me chuckle this morning Simon  :biggrin:

Thanks K I'm glad about that as it was the general idea  :) - I'm also glad not to have attracted the attention of any sour-pusses and grumble-dumps who may have been lurking - not too many I guess  sign

@ Juan, yes, I see your point but the scale of the problem is so huge on public lands that I can't see that your solution is in any way feasible. But Maria should indeed alert her neighbour to the problem - I'm not 100% sure but I think the toxin in the caterpillar's  spines are lethal, i.e. possible fatal, to dogs and small children if they get into the respiratory system.

I'm reminded of a very ironic short story about this in Granta a few years back in which an eco activist angrily blocked a mountains trail with logs, boulders, etc. behind a convoy of 'townies' in 4x4's with logs, boulders, etc. knowing tat their only exit was the same way down.

But when his infant began expiring after he encouraged it to get close to 'nature' his only recourse to help was this same convoy - who turned out to be academics on a field trip and who told him in detail the risks to the child, leaving said eco-warrior to run ahead and re-open the trail so that the academics in 4x4's could get to the hospital in time ...

Regs

Simon

Offline Petrea

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Re: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2016, 15:03 PM »
Maria, there may be a solution, if your neighbor will not cut down the tree:

http://www.viverosflorena.com/#!protect-your-pines-pets-and-people-from/clll

Only small scale solution, I´m afraid!
Cómpeta Naturaleza,  http://picasaweb.google.com/104328707567851681445

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Offline Maria

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Re: Devastation by pine processionary caterpillars
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2016, 19:06 PM »
Petrea this is a great find, thank you very much for the link. I have a few friends who could use this as well
 sign