With the arrival of spring, the warmer temperatures begin, but it also usually comes, in each spring season, the dreaded processionary caterpillar . This caterpillar, which is usually found in areas where there are pine trees and is very common in all types of parks and environments in the Mediterranean area, can be dangerous due to its fine stinging hairs. Because of this, when the processionary season approaches and if we have pine trees in our garden or surroundings, it is necessary to be prepared to keep it at bay.
If you want to learn the best home remedies for the pine processionary , join us in this article where you will find a guide full of tips and effective remedies.
What is the pine processionary and its characteristics
Before going into details about home remedies for the pine processionary, we want to talk more about it so that you know it well. These are the main characteristics of the pine processionary :
- The processionary is actually a night butterfly , which in its adult phase does not represent any danger to humans or other animals. However, this insect is much better known for its caterpillar phase which, in addition to attacking plants, has stinging hairs and is dangerous to us and other animals, such as dogs and cats.
- The processionary gets its name from the fact that, when the caterpillars descend from the pine tree, they tend to form a characteristic procession as if it were a single caterpillar of extraordinary length, which advances making shallow sways.
- It is used to infest pines in central and southern Europe, as well as in North Africa and the Middle East. His favorite tree is the black pine, but other types of pine and even cedars and firs are not safe from this pest.
- It appears when temperatures rise and there is less rain, when the adults lay their eggs. A month later the caterpillars hatch from the eggs, and in another month they already have their stinging hairs.
- The caterpillars form nests in the trees to spend the winter protected. These are easy to identify because they look like gray or off-white cotton tangles on the branches or trunk.
- When the heat returns, the caterpillars descend in their characteristic procession to find where to make their buried chrysalis. This generally occurs with the arrival of spring, but global warming contributes each year to further advance the process.
- The stinging hairs of the processionary are especially dangerous for dogs, cats and other naturally curious animals, as well as for children, who can even ingest these hairs. Of course, in adults they also produce stinging effects, but we can be aware of the risk and avoid it more easily.
- The urticarial reaction caused by the hairs can range from mild to very serious, and may be a medical emergency, depending on the amount of these and if the affected person or animal has an allergy or not. Due to this, it is necessary to act against this pest as soon as possible and go directly to the doctor or veterinarian in case of suffering its attack, which for them is, simply, to defend themselves from someone who gets too close.
How to combat the pine processionary – home remedies and tips
There are different ways to combat this pest, such as with insecticides for the processionary or even using phytosanitary products to combat the pine processionary . Here, however, we are going to focus on home remedies, such as cheats and direct action:
- Biological control of the pest.
- Collection by hand.
- Soapy dishwasher water.
- Butts or ashes of tobacco.
- Elaboration of traps for the processionary caterpillar.
If you have this pest in your garden or orchard, do not hesitate to use these remedies to eliminate the processionary caterpillar , as the bite of its stinging hairs can be serious. However, keep in mind that in natural areas you should not act to remove or eliminate them, it is forbidden and they are in their natural environment, so, simply, if we see them we can move away with enough space.
Biological control of the pine processionary caterpillar is the best remedy
In order not to directly kill the caterpillars or damage the environment, when there is a plague we can control it taking into account its natural enemies . For the biological control of the pine processionary , in the affected area it is necessary to increase the population of animals that feed on them in their different phases, such as:
If the area to be cleaned is small or there are not many of these caterpillars, this is the simplest method of all and also the most efficient. However, we have already said that the hairs of these caterpillars are stinging and dangerous, so it is necessary to protect yourself properly with gloves and glasses .
If you have located the nests in trees or bushes, or have seen the area where the caterpillars have buried themselves to form the pupae, remove the nests one by one or one by one the adult pupae or caterpillars by burning them, which is the most common way. effective so that stinging hairs are also destroyed .
If you simply step on the caterpillars, you will get the hairs on the soles of the shoes and you will end up contaminating your own home with them, causing the painful bites as well.
This is also one of the home remedies for the processionary as simple to prepare as it is effective, in addition to being useful against a large number of common pests. To use soapy water against the processionary , you will also have to wear gloves and glasses and follow these steps.
- Add the soap that you use to wash dishes in a spray bottle with water and stir well.
- Spray your plants affected by caterpillars or nests liberally, for which you may need to prepare several bottles or a drum depending on the amount of pest there is, and the caterpillar infestation itself will leave the area, since it is harmful to them.
- Repeat the treatment twice a day, at dawn and dusk, until the plague disappears.
Insecticide and repellent of the processionary caterpillar with tobacco
The remains of the tobacco are also very effective in keeping the processionary away. Follow these steps to prepare an insecticide for the processionary with tobacco :
- If you smoke or someone else is around you, save your cigarette butts or ashes and add them to a water base in a spray bottle.
- You can also use whole cigarettes directly, which you must boil with water.
- Spray the mixture on the plants, although do not abuse or make it too concentrated or you could harm the pines and other trees or plants.
Homemade traps for the pine processionary caterpillar
Another system is to prepare traps for the pine processionary . This is very useful when there are several trees affected and we do not have time to be aware of the area on a regular basis.
- Take a hard plastic and glue it around the entire contour of the tree trunk, creating a space that you can fill with water, deep enough for the caterpillars to collect and die. However, keep in mind that if you have added natural predators of these, they will come more easily to catch them in this trap for the caterpillars.
- You only need to be aware of refilling the water when it evaporates and that the plastic or container is still firm. This way you will know that practically none of the caterpillars will escape, as well as that their hairs will not be scattered.
- There are those who use this trap without water because they use it to collect them by hand more easily, but being able to enclose them in the container and take them to a natural area , far from their own garden or land.