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Pine processionary caterpillars.


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The old chestnut yet again..  A few weeks back we bought one of the traps that fit a foam.clear plastic band around the tree. There's a short bit of gain dropps through a hole into a bag suspended below. There's soil in the bag and as the catapillars decend they are guided round the band, down the hole into the bag. The soil is so they think they are in a place where they can bury themselves to pupate.

Well, after buying one at 50€ and a few centimes I decided that the other 11 were totally OTT price wise. So I bought a couple of metres of the flexible, 0.8mm I think, clear plastic sheet,  a slack handful of 15mm water pipe insulation and a tube of good contact adhesive and set about making the others. I already have the other little bits and bobs like gain, hooks, etc.

Yesterday I was checking the first one I made and found a few caterpillars both sides of the trap. On warm dys, like yesterday, they decend from the tree to have a wander round, visit another tree and at the end of the day they return to their own tree. So BEWARE! They are wandering around now and they are dangerous to you, your children and pets if you come into contact with them.

I still don't know if they managed to get passed my trap or were visitors from another tree so I will be watching very carefully while the sunny days last!

This is the one we bought


If you have any doubt that these are bad then just google 'pine processionary caterpillar problems' and have a read..

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They are a different make Wooly. They are the oak processionary jobbies mate. Just as bad though!! I am glad to say that we don't get them as well down here. The pine jobbies are enough for me!!

One of the walks we went with our village walking groupe, we went through quite a large pine forest and there were thousands of the cocoons, literally thousands and they must be doing a hell of a lot of damage to those trees.

I had to go into our local Logimarché this afternon and I cleared them ut of their 18mm pipe insulation and 8mm 's' hooks, so now I have enough for several more traps.

They seem to work, because when I looked just now threr were another 3 or so sods in one of them!! And earlier I saw several that were making their way up the same tree as yesterday. They were definately trying, and failing, to get up passed the trap. We have a forestiere office close to us and their 'expert' told us that the traps are quite efficient, probably need to use them for 2 or 3 years, but that they work.

This is an interesting site


But for all they say on it we haven't seen any sigh that the authorities are doing anything about them. This year seems to be a bumper time for them too!

Nick, I have a Fiskars telescopic branch lopper that extends to 4 metres and when they are too high for that I have made a foot or so length of 'X' bar from welding a couple of bits of angle iron together and that with a couple of Jublee clips and the 4 metre pool pole !!! It isn'e too easy to use, especially most of the way up a 4 metre ladder, but there are still several I can't reach, hence the blitz with the traps. I have cut down and burned about 20 so far. That's 2 or three times more than normal and there are still lots that I just can't reach. There seems to have been a double breeding season this year? That's why there's so breedin many of them [:-))]

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  • 2 weeks later...
I finished off making and fitting traps to all of our pines yesterday, all 20 [:-))][:-))]

Today, being a nice warm day, I had a look to see what was happening and I found 2 of the traps with the caterpillars wandering round the inside. After a little persuasion, with a stick, they decided to go down the gane. On the bought trap the gane os a transluscent white 1 1/4" jobbie, but the gain that I had is 18mm dark blue electrifical stuff I had knocking around. I think I may need to find some of the white stuff. I have put a thread on the renovation forum, but if you can help that would be great..

Once they had gone down the gane and dropped into the soil in the bag they just walked into into it and buried themselves to pupate. That way they will loose the nasty hairs and not be a problem, but being stuck in the bag they will not escape again. Something that I will have to look at is that when I fitted the traps I filled in the gaps between the foam and the tree caused the roughness of the bark it look fine, but the dammed things were trying to dig it out!! I will try mixing some weatherproof white PVA glue in the papier maché to see if that stops them.

I had also though that it would be worth trying one with some of the closed foam from the swimming sausages things. Cut into 1/4s or that sort of thing may be better than the pipe insulation I have used so far? It would give a flat edge to the tree instead of the round of the insulation.

So, be very careful at the moment, because they are coming down out of the trees to pupate!

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Apparently, according to an experiment by the well known French entomologist Jean Henri Fabre, if you manipulate the lead caterpillar to join on the end of the line to form a circle they will walk around like that for over a week !

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Well, I never!  When hubby and I were at St Jacut (Brittany) in January, we saw a whole load of these processing across a road.  We weren't sure what they were (other than that were caterpillars), so we just observed with interest and then went on our way.  We were surprised to see them as it was quite chilly at the time of our visit, down to freezing overnight, and a wet and windy day when we went for a walk. 

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I read the story of him Ernie and it will be interesting to watch as they have 'formed a full circle round one of the trees and have been happily (?) marching round most of today. That's despite my trying to encourage them to descend into the blue gaine (is that correct W? [Www]).

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I have a very good family photo along those lines Wooley.


I have to abmit an attraction to the one middle left [blink]

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[quote user="vivienz"]Well, I never!  When hubby and I were at St Jacut (Brittany) in January, we saw a whole load of these processing across a road.  We weren't sure what they were (other than that were caterpillars), so we just observed with interest and then went on our way.  We were surprised to see them as it was quite chilly at the time of our visit, down to freezing overnight, and a wet and windy day when we went for a walk. 


Were there any pine tree fairly close by or were they oak trees? Because as far as I am awair they haven't got that far north at the moment, but they are moving up slowly. If it was oak close by then they were probably oak processionary jobbies. Very similar, just as bad and they do a lot of damage to the oaks both in northern France and the U.K. The pine ones haven't reached the U.K. yet.

If you do see them like that again then please don't try to kill them by standing on them because their hairs are very brittle and they will break off and possibly land on youor anyone/thing close by. The only safe way to get rid of them is to burn them. If that's not possible then leave them alone. If anyone ever tells you that they are OK then ignore them. As I said, I have had first hand experience of them. Mine was quite mild, but it was NOT nice. My neighbour too, much worse than mine. Just google them, either type, and you will find out for yourself.

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Thanks, John. We didn't touch them - I'm always wary of very fuzzy caterpillars and so we did just watch them for a while. There were plenty squished on the road that they were crossing, mind you.

The did appear to have originated from a tree, but I can't remember what type it was; I think it was a holm oak, but can't quite remember. I'll check it out next time I'm there.

It seems like all types of trees are under attack from all types of nasties at the moment; horse chestnuts are often looking very tatty these days and it's awful to hear of so much ash die back.
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We decided to get a collar type trap to get a pattern for me to make the rest. We needed 20 in all and the small ones were 50 odd € in a local garden centre!! I made them from water pipe insulation and flexible sheet plastic you can buy by the metre. Fitted them all just in time, just before they started coming down to pupate!!

My traps may have been toooooo efficient. We now have severay hundred of the things trapped in some of the bags. We took a full bag to the dechet yesterday and were told that we couldn't dump it there because of the damger of the bag being split and the hairs flying about. But to burn the bag ans contents. He gave us an old 5 ltr paint tin to use.

So I chucked the bag in the tin, split it open very carefully, poured some petrol in the tin, stood well back and chucked a burning paper into it. The petrol can was well away. According to the web site the burnt remains should be put in a bag and disposed of with the houshold rubbish because by that time the hairs will have been burnt and they are not dangerous. We are getting some pros in on Friday, http://chenilles-processionnaires.fr/index.htm , to see about getting rid of of the things.



Edit :  -  I nearly forgot to say that the top photo has a 30mm OD pipe, the other an 18mm job. I had to change to the larger because at one stage there were so many of the little sods trying to get down it they blocked the 18mm one. God game changing to the larger one when they were all plodding around. I had to keep shoving them out of the way!!

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Would it be cheaper to fell the pines and not spend so much time and effort trying to stick your finger in a d%ke (its been deleted but its the opposite of a ditch )

What ever measures you use to eradicate these creatures will not work if pine trees are nearby

After 19 years my dogs and me and my wife have not suffered any problems despite living with them, yes they are dangerous but many other things are harmful but just be careful in their presence
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Friday afternoon we had a visit from a guy who specialises in getting rid of cocoons, part of this groupe  http://chenilles-processionnaires.fr/societe.htm . He produced the best telescopic branch lopper I have ever seen from his van. Kitted up with disposable overalls and mask he set about having a look around at our trees.

In the course of about 2 hours he cut down 31 (thirty one) cocoons from our trees. Some full, some empty because the caterpillars had already descended. No matter because even the empty ones are still chocker with the dangerous hairs from when the caterpillars lived in them. I wandered around with him, helping when I could and chatting on route.

He advised me to leave the traps in place to catch any that were still in the trees and not to replace the trap bags. He is going to return some time in April and collect the bags and dispose of them. I just wish that we had heard of him earlier? We were told about him by a friend a little way down the road from us after she had her trees sorted by him. Very efficient and as the French say gentille.

We probably won't get rid of all of them this year, but I feel that we are a good way further towards that goal and I don't care what anyone says about leaving them and being careful. I have tried that and IT DIDN'T WORK! I don't have the scares to prove it, but I have the memory of how bleedin uncomfortable it was when I stumbled across them!!! Anyone with children or animals who ignores them I wish good luck, but wen, not if, something happens it is your own fault. Don't try to change my opinion because bin ther done that and it hurts!

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  • 5 months later...
I have to start clearing out and refitting all the traps for the caterpillars about now and the only thing that I have had difficulty with is getting the strong plastic bags that hold the soil beneath the trap. Then I had a brain wave in my little grey cell (just the one) and thought of the 'sous vide'  bags that our butcher uses?? Just opposite one of our bio supermarkets is a pro kitchen shop, so I had a look in there yesterday and hey presto 100 heavy weight bags 30 X 40 cm for about 13€ and exactly what I had been looking for!

So, it's all systems go and start looking for the caterpillar eggs in the trees and get on with the fitting of the traps. I just hope that they don't have 2 bumper years on the trot [:-))]

The clearing out is essential, because of all the pine needles and rubbish that's dropped into the collar around the trees. It's also essential to get all kitted up with disposable overalls, gloves and mask as the hairs are still there and will do just as much damage for a couple of years. I have a positive pressure full face mask, needed for a lot of the turning that I do, so that will be used!

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More like an Aude-ish than a dervisch, what ever that is? Sounds like an Indian hill tribe warrior init [8-|]

Maggie for pope!! That's wot I say [blink]

Don't forget yer likkle brass eyes TP. They's important mate or yer bags'll rip with the weight of yer terre [:-))]

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  • 1 month later...
It looks as if these are hitting the big time and this should be well worth watching

[url=http://www.arte.tv/guide/fr/044211-003/conquerants]http://www.arte.tv/guide/fr/044211-003/conquerants[/url]      jeudi 29 octobre à 11h40 (44 min)

Knowing Arte, it will be good.

So far over the past few weeks I  have found, cut down and burned over 50 of the cocoons! So it looks as if they are going t have yet another bumper year! Bless their black hearts!
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  • 3 months later...
We had a bit of a surprise today.

Misty and not very warm this afternoon

and SWMBO came into my workshop and told me that there were a load of

caterpillars in one of our traps. I have put 17 on the pines in our

garden and not 1 but 2 had the little perishers wandering around. Both

also had at least a couple of dozen in the bags of soil under them and there were at least a couple of hundred wandering around both of them.

I tried to load the photos today onto photobucket, but I couldn't? No idea why, but if you haven't seen the traps have a look at them from last year on page 2 of this thread.

I have been looking out for them but didn't expect to see any just yet? They are about a month to 6 weeks earlier than usual? It's normal for them to come down on warm sunny days through the winter, but it wasn't either today.

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Well, my traps work OK and no problems with photobucket today either..




They were taken about an hour ago. The whole trap is alive with them!
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