With the imminent increase in temperatures, the probability of running into Processionaria (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) increases. It is a very funny-looking insect, which has as a characteristic the habit of moving in a row with its peers, forming a real cord.
The adult processionary becomes a harmless moth, but in the larval stage it can be very dangerous for humans and in some cases lethal for animals, especially dogs, which are used to sniff the ground and bite anything that moves on it.
On its body, in fact, there are urticating hairs, which the processionary uses as a defense mechanism. When the insect is in danger, they are released into the air and the hooked form allows the Processionary to attach itself to the victim, triggering reactions to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract and mucous membranes.
A dog that has come across a Processionary immediately shows its symptoms:
- Sudden and intense salivation, frequently followed by vomiting.
- Remarkable swelling of the tongue, after which the necrosis process of the portion in contact with the Processionary begins, with the consequent loss of pieces of tongue.
- Evident state of weakness.
- Reject food.
- Febrile symptoms.
What To Do In Case Of Contact
If the contact is considerable and prolonged the consequences for the dog could be fatal. For this reason it is very important to act as quickly as possible. The first thing to do is to rely on a vet, but it can be very useful in the first aid phase to remove the residual hair of the Processionaria immediately, washing the dog’s mouth, using a generous solution of water and bicarbonate of soda. It is strongly recommended to use latex gloves to protect yourself from stinging hair.
Where To Nest
The processionary is used to hit young trees, in particular pines and oaks. During a walk in places with such trees it is therefore advisable to keep an eye on your dog and, better still, to make him wear a muzzle. As much as I hate it, it will protect him.
Compulsory Pest Control
Since 2008, pest control by Processionaria caterpillars is mandatory, thanks to the entry into force of a ministerial decree that states that ‘the control of pine processionaria is mandatory in areas where the regional structures identified for the purposes of Legislative Decree No 214 of 19 August 2005, competent for the territory, have established that the presence of the insect seriously threatens the health of people or animals or the survival of the tree population’. The removal of Processionaria nests is the responsibility of the Forestry Corps or pest control professionals. If the infested plant is on private property, the costs of pest control are borne by its owners.