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processionary caterpillars

processionary caterpillars

Old Jan 27th 2024, 7:16 pm
  #31  
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

The Oak processionaries got to the UK a few years ago too - I think there were reports from one of London's parks (of course that's when it officially becomes a problem in the UK - when London is affected)
I know they are different species but the problem is the same
I would like to cut the rest of our pines down, but cost and wife's childhood memories of a house in a forest the 70's stop this for the moment
Ours are now just a 'mushroom' in the landscape - everyone else cut them all down on purchase of plot or existing house - it not a forest any more for sure
This also means they have no protection from the winds and no neighbours to make a root carpet
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Old Jan 27th 2024, 8:53 pm
  #32  
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

I used to have conifers in the garden, also as a wind barrier. For keeping insects at bay I used a homemade remedy of a few squirts of washing up liquid with water in a 5L sprayer with a capful or two of bleach.
Don't know if it would work for the caterpillars. It certainly kept the midges, ants and ticks out of my trees.
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Old Jan 27th 2024, 9:49 pm
  #33  
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

Many people cut off the nests and bury or burn them; of course it depends on your ability to reach them.
Also, it seems a bit dangerous to me, but I guess it's ok so long as you're careful.

If you don't like synthetic pesticides, you could try the "organic" ones to find out if they work.

I found neem pesticide to be very effective on other pests; it's a bit expensive and the shelf life after the bottle is opened is rather short.

Depending on the size and quantity of trees, you might be able to have them harvested. They'll even pay you for the wood.

I was offered 1000 euros for my forest; 25 years of growth, 1/2 hectare, so that's 40 per year pure profit. I respectfully declined.
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Old Jan 27th 2024, 10:05 pm
  #34  
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

There is always the trusty Karcher pressure washer too...
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Old Jan 28th 2024, 6:21 am
  #35  
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

I don't think that would be a good idea; you'd just blast them all over the place.
I don't quite believe that news article about the guys who were hospitalized because of them; one person could have an extreme reaction, but 2 friends both had extreme reactions?
Anyway, they are dangerous.

In my case, many nests are 20 meters up; maybe I could get a pesticide nozzle that high, but even that would be quite a challenge.

I notice many of the nests I can see on other properties around here seem to be empty already, so I guess some processions have occurred already.
My severely eaten small trees may be recovering.

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Old Jan 28th 2024, 9:54 pm
  #36  
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

Originally Posted by calman014
There is always the trusty Karcher pressure washer too...
As crazy as this suggestion seems I've seen it done. Some of the jet washers have the little tube you can drop into a container of detergent for soaping up the car. I've seen Portuguese using this to mix in both pesticide for blasting the caterpillar balls when they're high up a tree and hypochlorite for cleaning off the dirty black guk from tiled roofs. Pretty sure either will invalidate any warranty but very effective.
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Old Jan 28th 2024, 11:49 pm
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

Originally Posted by Score76
As crazy as this suggestion seems I've seen it done. Some of the jet washers have the little tube you can drop into a container of detergent for soaping up the car. I've seen Portuguese using this to mix in both pesticide for blasting the caterpillar balls when they're high up a tree and hypochlorite for cleaning off the dirty black guk from tiled roofs. Pretty sure either will invalidate any warranty but very effective.
Good grief!
I've seen a lot of things done here that I wouldn't do, or even stand around and watch from a great distance
That seems madness - do not try this at home!

I wear a paper hoodie-suit when cutting them down - like something out of the X Files


I had been starting to get weals from hairs just floating in the air over the last week (I'm ginger so especially sensitive, but luckily don't suffer from respiratório reactions if I am careful) and then I caught my first procession coming down and on the floor yesterday - it was sunny and warm.
Try going out at night with a flashlight and watch the air sparkle
When they come down will depend on your weather over the last 6(?) months and latitude, microclimate etc

I avoid hanging washing outside and opening windows downwind of trees

And the hairs can stay active for up to 5 years (I read that in a Sci Journal, but cant remember where)

And beware the dead last seasons nests which blow down throughout the following year


PS:I have found this great for aphids and things but I am pretty sure, given the strength of the chemicals advised for processionaries, that it will not have any effect on these beasities

How to Make Insecticidal Soap
Combine one cup (or 1/3 Cup) of oil, any variety, such as vegetable, peanut, corn, soybean, etc. with one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid or other “pure” soap. Be sure to avoid any dish washing liquids which contain degreaser, bleach, or those that are for an automatic dishwasher.

Mix two teaspoons (or 1 teaspoon) of this “soap” mixture to every cup of warm water and put into a spray bottle. Mix only what is needed for a one-day application.

1 cup is 250 ml

1 tablespoon is 15 ml

1 teaspoon is 5 ml

1/3 Dose is 85 ml oil with 5 ml fairy liquid. (1/3 Cup + 1 teaspoon)

Last edited by Midgo; Jan 28th 2024 at 11:52 pm.
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Old Jan 29th 2024, 6:15 am
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

One time I put a pesticide solution into a water type fire extinguisher, pressurized it to 10 bar, and With the aid of a 6 meter long tube on top of the loader of my tractor, managed to get the mix around 15 meters up.

The problem is dispersal; the steam just won't stay together for more than a few meters, then it widens out into fine droplets that rapidly lose velocity.

My conclusion is that the only way to get pesticide into high nests is with something that can actually reach that high, or almost that high.

It's probably more realistic to catch them on the way down. But I have more than 100 tall trees!
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Old Jan 30th 2024, 3:06 am
  #39  
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

ooooofff! 100!
I think you have to just live and let live
It has to be every year as they fly kilometres

Some links I found ages ago:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...264?via%3Dihub

https://run.unl.pt/bitstream/10362/1...entel_2004.pdf

https://www.fao.org/3/a0789e/a0789e13.htm

https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/spong...ier-band-trap/

https://pigletinportugal.com/2010/11...ars/#more-1057

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_processionary



https://www.naturalhistorymag.com/ht...8_feature.html
(no longer up, but I clipped the following to my Joplin Notes)
Surprisingly, few of the victims in the outbreaks actually touched or saw the caterpillars. The hairs can be unavoidable on a windy day, floating invisibly in the air for more than a mile. High concentrations of the airborne hairs are common because the caterpillars live in large sibling groups—often of a hundred or more—and can achieve high population densities. The caterpillars move about in head-to-tail bodily contact, forming snakelike lines as long as twenty feet, a peculiar form of collective locomotion termed processioning. While this is an effective means of staying together, brazen marches render the insects conspicuous to predators, requiring strong defense against attack. Hence, the hairs—lots of them.
People all over the world have come into contact with the dozens of species of processionaries that have evolved around the world. In West Africa, for instance, inhabitants have eaten the Anaphe caterpillar for many generations. They deal with the hairs by singeing them as the caterpillars are roasted over a fire. Eating one or two of the tasty caterpillars is of no concern. But making regular meals of them, it turns out, often leads to serious symptoms: difficulty in speaking, impaired consciousness, rolling eyes, staggering, and tremors. Only recently has it been established that thiaminase, an enzyme in the caterpillar’s body, destroys the victim’s vitamin B1. The resultant vitamin deficiency, now known as seasonal ataxia, was responsible for about 70 percent of?hospital admissions in Ikare, Nigeria, in August 1993. Fortunately, the symptoms disappear quickly with vitamin supplements.

The most dangerous of the processionaries is the South American Lonomia. In Brazil, a seventy-year-old woman suddenly fell into a coma after she placed a slipper on her foot. Hidden within was a Lonomia caterpillar. Doctors found lesions on her left foot where hairs had penetrated her skin. The toxin had triggered intracerebral hemorrhages, from which she died seven days later. More and more people are being exposed to the hazard because of deforestation and a decline in the caterpillar’s natural enemies. An antilonomic serum, if injected in a timely manner, can save victims’ lives.




Larvae of the processionary genus Hylesia

Central America has suffered in recent years from female moths in the processionary genus Hylesia. The moth, like that of some other species of processionaries, has poisonous spicules on its abdomen, allowing it to carry on the nasty business of its childhood. In 2005, Trinidad shut down offshore oil rigs when the moths fluttered about lights that burned through the night; the spicules broke from their abdomens, drifted invisibly through the air, and fell onto the exposed skin of the victims.

Animals as well as humans fall victim to processionaries. Veterinarians are accustomed to treating curious pets that molest caterpillar processions or nests; the unfortunate animals often suffer necrosis of their tongues, requiring that affected parts be cut out to save their lives. In Australia, the processionary Ochrogaster is the prime suspect in a recent rash of aborted foals: there is growing evidence that if pregnant mares ingest fragments of hairs left behind as the caterpillars march over the ground, their fetuses may die. Although the exact mechanism remains uncertain, the hairs may irritate the mare’s gut, which allows pathogenic bacteria to invade the bloodstream.

While it is mostly because of their impact on human health that processionaries have attracted the attention of scientists, I was drawn to them for a wholly different reason. My interest was piqued after reading a series of essays on the pine processionary caterpillar (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) written more than a hundred years ago by the renowned French naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre. Fabre conducted remarkably detailed studies of the larva and the moth, which he recorded in his encyclopedic ten-volume Souvenirs Entomologiques.

In January 1896, Fabre wondered what would happen if the first caterpillar in a procession could be made to follow the last, creating a complete circle. He soon had his answer, for by chance a procession crawled onto a palm pot in his greenhouse and formed a circular procession around its rim. To his amazement the caterpillars circled for seven days before breaking free. Factoring in rest breaks during the cold nights, Fabre calculated, conservatively, that the caterpillars marched for eighty-four hours, circling the rim 335 times. He attributed the circling behavior to blind instinct, stating that the caterpillars lacked “the rudimentary glimmers of reason that would advise them to abandon it.” His account of the circling procession is one of the best known of all insect stories, because it is viewed as a metaphor for mindless living. The story has been endlessly retold by inspirational speakers who see in it the folly of blindly following the crowd, striking off with neither a goal nor a leader, or confusing activity with progress.

I pondered Fabre’s account, not from the point of view of one searching for inspiration, but from that of a scientist who had spent nearly all of?his working years investigating the behavioral and chemical ecology of social caterpillars. In truth, I doubted that caterpillars could be endlessly trapped in a circular procession merely because they adhered to an instinct to follow each other; something else was at work here. I also wondered, as had Fabre, how the caterpillars managed to form and maintain processions in the first place. Fabre observed that each caterpillar lays down a fine thread of silk as it marches along. Although he never formally tested his hypothesis, he felt that the caterpillars sensed those strands, leading them to trail one behind the other. Fabre was an acute observer, but he died long before the discovery of the role of pheromones in orchestrating the collective behavior of social insects. My research with other species of social caterpillars suggested that a previously undetected pheromone might be essential to the formation of processions. Thus, I set off on a study of the behavioral ecology of the pine processionary, which lives in southern Europe and northern Africa.

When I initiated my investigation, I was fully aware of the caterpillar’s toxic nature. Insatiable experimenter that he was, Fabre reported that he suffered severe rashes when he poured extracts of the caterpillar onto his skin. One of his contemporaries, attempting a similar experiment, experienced a much more dangerous anaphylactic response and reported that “not only my hands, my arms, my legs, but my whole body became the seat of insupportable itching; soon my face swelled, my eyes puffed up and I had to give up writing my remarks.” After suffering a severe conjunctivitis when a tiny fragment of a caterpillar’s hair fell onto my eye, I found it necessary to move with caution in the field and to confine the caterpillars in my laboratory to a room fitted with air filters. Nonetheless, there were few days during my studies when I didn’t have to deal with an itching dermatitis.




Baby pine processionaries



Pine processionary nest

I conducted my field studies in Catalonia, Spain, where the life cycle of the pine processionary begins in early August, when the moth lays up to 300 or so eggs on pine needles. Soon after they hatch, the tiny caterpillars construct a flimsy silk nest around a few pine needles. That nest is abandoned after a short while, and over the next month the caterpillars collectively build a succession of nests at new sites in the branches of the tree. Their nomadic nesting habits end after their second molt, when they initiate the construction of a dense and virtually impenetrable silk nest they will inhabit for the rest of their larval lives. The permanent nest stands apart from the caterpillar’s food supply, and they march from it to feeding sites on the host tree, returning home hours later with full guts. It is with the initiation of the permanent nest and the long marches that the caterpillars’ hairs, until now soft and harmless, grow into stiff, toxic bristles. Their nest becomes littered with those bristles, fortifying it against attack by would-be predators.
A striking feature of the pine processionary’s life cycle is that the insect spends the winter in the caterpillar stage. Since insects are ectothermic, producing no body heat, one would expect that they would lie immobilized in their nests on cold winter days. To determine how the caterpillars fared during winter, I set up activity monitors near nests in mid-February. The monitors projected invisible infrared beams across pathways the caterpillars used when they foraged. When the beam was interrupted by a passing caterpillar, the signal was sent to a data logger, time-stamped, and later uploaded to a computer for analysis.

During the week of my study, temperatures in the afternoon reached average highs of 63 degrees Fahrenheit, but plummeted rapidly to below freezing after sunset. Yet the monitors revealed that the caterpillars only left their nests after dark and returned before dawn. One morning I observed that water had turned to ice in a pot left outside overnight, and I was sure I would find that the caterpillars had spent the previous night snug in their nests. But the data loggers revealed that they had been active outside their nests until the temperature dropped below 28 degrees, at which point they became immobilized. As soon as the first rays of the morning sun struck them, their bodies warmed, allowing them to make their way back to the nest, and by 9 a.m. all were home.

The study revealed that the caterpillar has one of the lowest “chill-coma” temperatures (the temperature when all activity ceases) ever documented for an insect. It is likely that selection pressure from daytime predators accounts for that seemingly strange behavior. For not all predators are put off by the pine processionary’s toxicity. Remarkably, the hoopoe, the great tit, and the great spotted cuckoo are all able to feed on the caterpillars without ill effect.

Although the nest serves as a secure retreat, it has another equally essential function. During sunny days, it traps solar radiation. Thermo-sensitive probes I placed in nests in February registered as high as 100 degrees during the day. Heat trapping warms the caterpillars enough during even the coldest days to enable them to efficiently metabolize the food they’ve collected during their nightly forays.

In early March the caterpillars take their last meal, an event followed by a grand procession. Up to now they have confined their forays to the host tree, but on this occasion they march down to the base of the tree and set off over the ground in a snaking procession. The leader advances, goaded on by the mass of caterpillars that push from behind. The caterpillars are in search of a place to spin their cocoons. Along the way they test the ground, seeking loose soil, and eventually they bury themselves side by side several inches underground to undergo metamorphosis. The timing is right because the nests would be much too hot to occupy in the torrid summers that characterize much of their range. The pupating processionaries stay underground until August, when, as moths, they burrow up through the soil [see illustration below]. Children who uncover one of the communal crypts while digging in sand in the summer become inadvertent victims of the caterpillars’ hairs. The abandoned nests, too, continue to spew toxic particles into the air well into the summer.


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Old Feb 1st 2024, 9:29 am
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Wow; after reading that, you start to think that maybe forest fires have a bright side to them.
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Old Feb 2nd 2024, 10:15 am
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

Oh my god, this is crazy. I will never go outdoors again, I will lock myself indoors and make sure no air gets in because I could be dead if I inhale just 1 caterpillar hair. I was always worried about cancer or heart problems or being killed or seriously injured in a road accident caused by some idiot drunk driver or some asshole using their mobile but never thought we would all be wiped out by caterpillars. Maybe the Russians are behind all this trying to secretly wipe us all out by spreading the caterpillars and CIA and MI6 just haven't seen this coming. I am so distraught, I will never go out again. NOT!!!!
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Old Feb 2nd 2024, 10:50 am
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

Originally Posted by 1Steve
Oh my god, this is crazy. I will never go outdoors again, I will lock myself indoors and make sure no air gets in because I could be dead if I inhale just 1 caterpillar hair. I was always worried about cancer or heart problems or being killed or seriously injured in a road accident caused by some idiot drunk driver or some asshole using their mobile but never thought we would all be wiped out by caterpillars. Maybe the Russians are behind all this trying to secretly wipe us all out by spreading the caterpillars and CIA and MI6 just haven't seen this coming. I am so distraught, I will never go out again. NOT!!!!
Just take a shotgun.

Barstewards don't come back..... more than twice
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Old Feb 2nd 2024, 8:44 pm
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Old Feb 3rd 2024, 3:24 am
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Old Feb 3rd 2024, 6:42 am
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Default Re: processionary caterpillars

You're completely wrong!

Not the russians, it's the Chinese.
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