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A nasty surprise !!


Jonzjob
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This afternoon OH and I were getting some more firewood in. We have 2 seperate stacks, one for beech and one for the chen blanc, white oak. We had just about finished loadng up the wheelbarrow and I shouted at PH to stand away from the pile. She jumped back and asked why?

We were looking at a l  o  n  g  line of pine processionary caterpillars winding their way up the logs! There were 100+ of the little cowsons. I got a dustpan and brush and very carefully brushed all the ones I could see into the pan. Then I had to dismantle a fair bit of the pile to make sure and get them all.

It's quite normal for them to come down and wander around on warm days, but this is the first time I have ever seen them going into a log pile. It may be that they have been prompted by the string of warm, dry days we have had and they were looking for soft soil to bury themselves in to pupate?

Anyway, the horrible little things are burning on an early lit fire now so will not do any more harm. The basic of it is that there have been far more of their cocoons this year = more caterpillars, so keep a very careful eye out for them, especially for the sake of your dog or cat if you have them. They secrete a feromone that attracts dogs in particular and they will try to eat them. If they do then your next step MUST be the vets or your animal will probably have a very nasty death. The hairs are toxic and will cause the animals tuong and throat to swell and close if not treated quickly. I am not overstating this!

On humans they cause a bad reaction if you get them on your skin. I know just how nasty it is when I came across some unexpectly. My hands, arms and lower legs were very soar for several dyas. They can blind if they get into your eyes, sometimes permantly.

I have posted this site several times now, but a reminder won't go amiss  http://web.cortland.edu/fitzgerald/pineprocessionary.html

If you have to clear them up wear gloves and be very careful. The only way to get rid of them safely is to burn them. Don't just kill them where they are because the hairs will fly all over the place and still have their toxisity.
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On a similar subject it seems that adders are coming out of hibernation early this year as a result of the mild weather and the heavy rainfall flooding their over-winter nests. A dog was bitten near Bristol last weekend so keep an eye open if you live in an adder area. 
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We had to have a very tall old pine tree cut down because of those pests. It was already infested when we moved to this house 7 years ago, and the upper branches were bare of needles.

Luckily they never caused harm to animals, but it was sad to see the tree slowly dying.

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Not at all.   Nearest piece of land not belonging to us 300 m away. 

And the hunter aimed at (and mainly succeeded to hit) a point so that the nest would be detached neatly rather than blown apart.

Perhaps you will be surprised to hear that he'd done it before and knew what he was about.

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  • 5 weeks later...
I have heard of hunters shooting the cocoons down before. One of the things it does is that it opens up the cocoon so that birds can get at them. They are really tough to break open and most birds just can't manage it.

A further warning now. They are coming down out of the trees to find soft ground. They dig themselves into the ground to pupate over the summer and come back out around October time as the dowdy looking brown moth. We had some on our drive yesterday. It's gravel covered and rock hard, but they had managed to get a few inches under and some had actually started their pupation. They went under my gas blow torche the same as the others, then onto the fire! If you give them a blast with a gas blow torche it burns off the hairs and they are the things that cause the trouble, but I burn them on the fire for the hell of it and then I am sure they won't come back! How the hell they managed to dig into our drive amaises me, it ain't arf hard!

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