This furry “friend” can cause the death of a dog and seriously affect people.

What is the pine processionary?

It is a caterpillar about 4 cm long, very hairy, that moves along the ground in groups, more specifically in single file, hence the nickname “processionary”.
The pine processionary is not only present in the bush, but also in the parks and gardens of many cities.
It all starts in summer, the processionary caterpillar butterfly lays its eggs in a pine tree (it can also lay eggs in spruce and cedar trees).

The eggs hatch and the caterpillars remain in the tree during the cold months, so if in winter you see cotton-like bags on the trees, what you have before your eyes are processionary nests.  

When they have matured they will descend through the bark of the tree, this usually occurs around February and March but can vary depending on the weather and may begin in January or extend into April.

nido oruga procesionaria
oruga procesionaria

The caterpillars go to an area where they bury themselves to later become chrysalises and finally butterflies.

They can move up to 30 meters in search of soft ground suitable for their purpose.

It is at this moment when they are so dangerous, especially for dogs, which are always sniffing everything in their path.

What are the most common symptoms?

  • Hypersalivation
  • Skin inflammation
  • Allergic reaction
  • Skin irritation
  • Blisters
  • Ulcers
  • Tongue inflammation
  • Red, purplish or black tongue
  • General discomfort
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive scratching
  • Breathing problems
picadura oruga procesionaria

What to do?

  • Move your dog away from the area where it contacted the processionary.
  • Carefully remove any caterpillar debris, hairs or secretions that may have come in contact with the caterpillar.
  • Washing with warm water can help to reduce the effect of the toxin, as it denatures it and prevents its action.
  • Be careful when doing this. You should avoid rubbing when washing, as the strands dig deeper into the tissue and more toxin is released when the strands break.
  • You should perform these actions if possible wearing gloves and trying to protect your eyes and the contact with your skin.
  • See a veterinarian as soon as possible. Quick action is the key to reduce the effect of the bite.