Local vets have issued a warning about the danger to dogs caused by processionary caterpillars, which have started to appear earlier than normal this year, because of spring-like temperatures last month.
The hairs of the caterpillar larvae cause harmful reactions in young children, as well as in dogs, with the species wintering in nests in pine trees, and then they “process” out, protected by their hairs in search of food.
They often strip down a tree and once they have cleared it out of needles, they then form a line in search of additional nourishment. Their peak season for making an appearance is between February and April, with the mild winter producing more of them than normal.
A young child who touches the caterpillars can end up with acute dermatitis, eye lesions, and strong allergic reactions.
Dogs may pick up the caterpillar hairs on their paws and then lick them because of an irritation, leading to swelling which can cause the dog’s tongue to burn away, unless they are treated immediately.
The quickest remedy if your dog does go up to sniff a crawling trail of caterpillars is to put bicarbonate of soda onto the affected area immediately, and then take your pet to the vet.
Caterpillars are regarded as the worst plague for pine trees in Spain, after forest fires. Their presence can be spotted by the white nests which look like huge spider’s webs hanging in the pine trees.