The processionary caterpillars nest in pine trees. / sur

Council starts treatment to prevent processionary caterpillars which can be lethal to pets

The insects’ hairs can also trigger allergic reactions and skin irritation in humans and direct contact with the insects is not even necessary

EUROPA PRESS MALAGA.

Malaga city council has begun to carry out treatment to prevent a plague of pine processionary caterpillars next spring. The treatment is being applied to pine trees in parks, at schools and areas close to care homes, playgrounds, nurseries and health centres. Once all these have been treated, inspections will be carried out fortnightly to ensure that the treatment has been effective and it will be repeated if necessary.

“The product we use is biological and non-toxic. It is safe for the environment and for public health,” the council said in a statement.

The treatment consists of spraying the pine needles with the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis Kurstaki. This acts by ingestion, interfering with the feeding of the processionary caterpillar larvae and causing them to die.

The spray includes an ecological plant fortifier, Energy 95, with free amino acids, organic matter and organic nitrogen, which acts as a biostimulant and PH regulator, and which also increases the vitality of the trees. The treatment is applied by fully qualified staff.

Where and when

The treatment is being carried out at night at Gibralfaro, Cerrado de Calderón, Monte Victoria, El Retiro and La Cónsula, Campanillas, Teatinos and Ciudad Jardín.

By day, the council will be treating pine trees at Morlaco, La Pelusa, Hacienda Clavero, El Polvorín, Zona Galeno, San Antón, Concepción,Comandante Benítez, Virreinas, the banks of the Guadalmedina river, Lagarillo Blanco, Andrés Jiménez Díaz, Monte Coronado, Pasaje Gladiolos and Las Palmeras.

This year El Atabal will also be included, and the time of day will depend on when the staff and vehicles are available.

Contact with the caterpillars

Human contact with the caterpillars can cause dermatitis, eye injuries, hives and allergic reactions. "Direct contact with the caterpillars is not even necessary," said Jorge Galván, general director of the National Association of Environmental Health Companies (Anecpla) "because when they feel threatened, they throw their hairs into the air which cause irritations and allergies, especially if they reach, for example, the eyes."

Each caterpillar has around 500,00 poisonous hairs known as trichomes, ready to be used like poison darts the moment they feel they are in danger. “Even slight contact with them can generate everything from dermatitis to eye injuries, including hives and allergic reactions due to the release of histamine,'' he added.

In dogs, the hairs will cause swelling, if the hairs are swallowed, they can cause necrosis of the tongue and throat, and as a result, the death of the animal.