Monday, 15 February 2016

Spanish News for the English (8)

The 'Spanish News for the English' 2016 is a tongue in cheek service, in support of European Multiculturalism for English Pensionistas (pensioners) Pensionistas who are considering a different type of winter break. This time as an alternative to the more usual break of an ankle, leg or arm due to the inclement UK weather.

Our campsite was at DEFCON ONE and on high alert on Sunday afternoon. The first caterpillar of this seasons pine processionary moth was spotted. This moth is one of the most destructive species that effects both pines and cedars in southern Europe. After overwintering in what look like small, grey, tennis ball sized hollow nests. The nests are always built on the sunny side of the pine trees. The caterpillars come out on even the coldest evenings to feed on the pine needles. The moth gets its name from the habit of the caterpillar when they leave the nest for the last time. When they play follow my leader all the way down the trunk to ground level. Where they move out in what looks like a 'conga' line, look for a patch of soft earth to burrow into to pupate. 

You may be wondering why this moth is given such attention. The worst part of this part of the moths life cycle is that the caterpillar is armed with what are called 'urticating hairs' which can cause harmful reactions in people as well as dogs and cats. The caterpillar should never be handled as the abundant hairs on their bodies cause extreme irritation to the skin. The larvae can also eject hairs when threatened or stressed. The hairs then irritate any areas of exposed skin. Severe allergic reactions may follow in susceptible individuals.

When the paws and other body parts of a dog come into contact with the hairs, they will become severely irritated. In response, the dog will lick the affected area. In turn, the dog's tongue will become severely irritated. The tongue may become necrotic, and it may be necessary to amputate the tongue to prevent sepsis and spread of necrosis. Severe reactions to the hairs may cause kidney failure in the dog and death may occur. Dog owners should therefore absolutely prevent their dog from wandering in pine woods where pine moths may be present, in order to avoid potentially lethal contact with the caterpillars.

The first group of caterpillars on the ground were treated with a chemical spray to kill them. This was followed by a quick visual search round the other trees in the area. Where we soon found several other nests up in the pines. The next morning a team turned up and after waiting for the air to warm. When all the caterpillars would be back in the nest digesting last nights meal. The branches with the nests attached were removed and instantly incinerated.

Caveat: Due to language difficulties and the unavailability of translation services. There may be one or two small inaccuracies in the news provided.

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