• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Danger: Early toxic caterpillar plague creeps across Spain
Photo: Rabiem22 / Flickr

Danger: Early toxic caterpillar plague creeps across Spain

Fiona Govan · 8 Feb 2016, 16:52

Published: 08 Feb 2016 16:52 GMT+01:00

A mild winter has led to a proliferation of the Pine Processionary Caterpillar   (Thaumetopoea Pityocampa) across Spain, according to experts who warn that that the danger has arrived early.

The caterpillars usually emerge at the start of spring but experts warn that this year, because of unusual weather conditions, the danger season has started early.

"After a winter that has been much milder and drier than normal, the population of the processionary caterpillar has flourished and brought forward their arrival," Milagros Fernandez de Lezeta, director of Spain's Pest Control Association (ANECPLA), told The Local.

"They pose a major risk to children, adults and pets causing dermatitis, eye damage and severe allergic reaction," she explained.

The eggs are laid in candyfloss-like nests in pine trees until it is time for them to hatch and find food when they drop to the ground and move head to tail in a procession to form the conspicuous snake-like lines for which they are named.


Photo: Syvia Wrigley / Flickr

The caterpillars, measuring between three and four centimeters in length, are particularly dangerous to children who may be curious enough to touch them, and to dogs, who may attempt to eat them.

Each caterpillar is covered with tiny barbed hairs containing a protein called thaumetopoein.

Dogs which come into contact with the caterpillars could pick up the hairs on their paws, which are then licked because of the irritation and the poison spreads to the mouth.

Story continues below…

They could suffer breathing difficulties, vomiting or start foaming at the mouth and should be taken urgently to the nearest veterinary clinic.

Sometimes amputation of the tongue or nose is the only course of action and contact can result in death.

The risk is not confined exclusively to pine forests but can occur anywhere where pine trees grow, including city parks, private gardens and roadsides.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spanish exodus at highest level since crisis began
Photo: tomy pelluz/Flickr

Record numbers of Spaniards left the country in 2015 and their favourite destination was the UK.

Brothers arrested in Spain for promoting Islamic State
The men used social media to promote Isis. Photo: AFP

Three brothers have been arrested in Catalonia on suspicion of promoting terrorism.

Del Bosque quits as Spain coach after poor Euro 2016
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque announced he is quitting. Photo: AFP

Vicente del Bosque said on Thursday that he has resigned as coach of Spain, just days after the reigning champions crashed out of Euro 2016.

Spain's Rajoy starts talks to form government after vote
Photo: AFP

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy began talks on Thursday with other political parties to try to form a government.

First Lady 'proud' US might just elect a female president
Michelle Obama speaking in Madrid on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Michelle Obama said she was "proud" that a woman might be elected president of the United States this year, during a speech in Madrid.

What's on in Spain: July 2016
Red bandanas - a symbol of the San Fermin Festival. Photo: Oakland Native/Flickr.

From Pamplona's thrilling bull runs to Europe's biggest gay pride festival, there's no shortage of exciting events across Spain this summer.

Brexit
Seven burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Photo: AFP

Uncertainty has kicked in over Brexit and what it may mean for British expats living in Spain.

Google's Madrid offices raided in tax probe
Photo: AFP

Google's offices in Madrid were being searched in a tax probe Thursday, just over a month after police raided the Internet giant in Paris in a similar investigation.

Splash! Spanish waterpark crowned best in the world
Photo: YouTube

Siam Park in Tenerife has topped TripAdvisor's Traveller's Choice Awards.

Two workers in Spain fired for skipping work... for 15 years
Archive photo of man having a siesta. Photo: Jessica Jones

The men were municipal employees in the town of Jerez de la Frontera, southern Spain. And they hadn't done a day's work in 15 years.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Rajoy claims right to form government after poll win
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
International
Brexit limbo: What happens next for expat Brits in Spain?
Politics
Spanish elections: What are the possible outcomes?
International
Worried after Brexit? Here’s how to become Spanish
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Politics
Why Spain is heading for a Groundhog day election
International
Brit expats in Spain stunned and fearful after Brexit win
Travel
The intern's guide to surviving a summer in Spain
National
The weird and wonderful ways Spain celebrates midsummer
National
Get your kit off! Spain's ten best nudist beaches
International
Spain REALLY wants Britain to stay in EU and here's why
National
Don't jump! Officials in Spain warn against 'balconing' craze
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Girl's best friend: Four-year-old finds comfort with a bull
Politics
Hilarious video pokes fun at expats in Spain over Brexit
National
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
National
Spain knocked off top spot for world's best restaurant
International
Meet the Spaniard working as North Korea's secret weapon
National
Sheep invade Spanish city after shepherd takes a snooze
Features
Five brilliant ways to beat the crowds in Barcelona
National
Experts warn of jellyfish boom across Spain's beaches
Politics
Are these the weirdest political campaign ads ever?
National
Giant inflatable poo goes walkies from town square
Lifestyle
Spanish study proves fat really ISN'T bad for you
3,214
jobs available