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Caterpillar southern Spain (1 Viewer)


Paul Winter
I came across these caterpillars under predominantly pines at about 500m asl in the Sierra de Aguas in Malaga province in southern Spain.
Thanks for any help in ID.


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Those are pine processionary (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) caterpillars. They defoliate pines and cedars and can cause severe allergies from their hairs blown by the wind. Great Spotted Cuckoos love them but people not so much ;)
It's a common species also in the Balearic Islands where they came up with a brilliant solution - shooting the over-wintering nests with shotguns which, of course, spread the urticating hairs even more than usual! The government also spends vast amounts of money spraying the nests with a "targetted bacillus" - but the larvae are protected by the 'waterproof' silk webbing and it also has a knock-on effect on other 'non-target' species.
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