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The following article may be worth reading if you are thinking of taking a holiday abroad to a european warmer climate.


Processionary Caterpillars


After travelling around Europe for the summer, we were warned by some of the locals about a caterpillar that could be extremely harmful to us, but potentially fatal to our labrador, if eaten. These are called Processionary Caterpillars.

Called 'Processionary Caterpillars' because they form processions, nose to tail, as they leave the nest prior to changing into moths. They make their home in the warmer regions in the mediterranean through to the Adriatic and beyond in the east.

Processionary Caterpillars live in easily identifiable silvery nests in pine trees making their mass nests,(feeding of the pine needles) and then eventually leave their nests in search for food. When they do this they leave a pheromone trail allowing the others to follow, causing a procession. These processions are always single-file head-to-tail and can consist of as many as three hundred caterpillars. The caterpillars stay in line in part as a result of tactile stimulus from the hair-like sensory appendages on the abdomen of the caterpillar in front of it. Between the months of October through to March and April time, the caterpillars descend from their cocoon nests. The caterpillars are a mottled dull brown colour with faded yellowish splotches.

So why are they dangerous? Well, these caterpillars have poisonous and irritant brittle hairs all over their bodies, and if touched by people these hairs will cause severe skin irritations. Sometimes just by touch alone, anaphylactic shock can occur, leading to closure of the airways leading to death. As children are more inquisitive, it is very important to keep them away from these caterpillars, if they touch them the effects will no doubt be more severe. Children have been known to go temporarily blind from rubbing their eyes after picking them up.

So What About Our Labradors?

Processionary Caterpillars are dangerous to both cats and dogs. They have a very bittersweet smell and taste, and your labrador will try to eat them. If eaten by your lab, the results are almost certain to be fatal. As little as three or four will kill a medium sized dog. The reaction to the poison also causes necrosis of the tongue, and if you as the labrador owner do not notice in time, it is usually to late for a vet to do anything to help, apart from ease the suffering. So if you are thinking of taking a holiday abroad to any of the Mediterranean destinations, beware of these caterpillars.
 

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I just came across your post and I know it is a couple of years old but I wanted to add to your warning.

We moved to Spain last year and bought a lab puppy, Rocco, now 9 months old. Last week I was travelling and he was staying with some friends in the centre of Madrid that were also looking after another lab during the day. The dogs were playing in the park in the morning and in the afternoon they took the other lab back to its owner. They were having a chat when the dogs tongue suddenly swelled up and it went into anaphylactic (spelling??) shock. They rushed it to the vets and it is still in intensive care after 5 days. The lab had eaten a few of the caterpillars

Rocco meanwhile was fine, it seemed that despite being very greedy the other lab was greedier and speedier! However, later that evening he started rubbing his eyes. The guys looking after him immediately rushed him to the specialist dog eye hospital (yes it really exists!!!) as they knew straight away what it was. Bascially while playing with the other lab a single hair from one of the caterpillars had got into his eyelid. It then caused both eyes to swell and close for 3-4 days. The vet said that he had had 5 cases in the last few days and 4 had gone blind.

It looks like Rocco will be ok in the end - ie he is the lucky one - but I wanted to share to say how important this is...especially as this year, with the help of global warming these nasty caterpillars arrived 2 months early. The lads looking after Rocco weren't keeping an eye out as they would do in May which is the usual season

Things to note:
- everyone is Spain knows about these caterpillars and therefore it doesn't occur to them to warn clueless foreigners like ourselves. I feel so lucky that this happened while I was away as I would not have known the danger and noone would have bothered to warn me
- the effect on dogs can take a while - a few hours for the lab that ate the catepillar, a day for the affect on Rocco's eye
- it happens wherever there are pine trees ie its a danger in city parks as much as in the country
- they don't have to eat it for there to be horrible effects - a single hair could have blinded him for life

 

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They may be old posts but useful!

We move to Spain in the summer, I had heard to afford processionary caterpillars; however, had no idea thay were this potent.

Thanks for the warning!

Laura and Luna x
 

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These things sound awful - and I bet they make their to England given time


Off topic - Laura where are you going????




Eve Neo and Bramble
 

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Caterpillar danger

Thanks for your post immensely! My lab puppy Liza 4 months ate 3 process ionary caterpillars. A couple of hours later she luckily threw them up but was in extreme pain all around her mouth area and salivating like crazy. I had no idea what it was since my adult male lab never touched them(clever boy) but after reading online a few things and your post I realized the dangers. We were more than lucky as these creatures cause allergic shock and necrosis to tissue. Luckily the vet ( and your post) saved her tongue as the minute I noticed mild discoloration I took her to a 24 hr clinic where she was given cortisone injections and other meds to stop the reaction. Thank you so so much. Others be warned. These creatures are extremely dangerous!!! We live in Greece where they are all around!!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Lizafidel,

Welcome to Lab Forums.

I am so pleased to hear that your puppy Liza has recovered from this, how awful - you must have been so scared!

Thank goodness you reacted so quickly & i'm so pleased LF helped you!

Whereabouts in Greece do you live? At least you know about these catipillars now and to be aware of them... they are horrid.

Great to have you join us anyway, perhaps when you get time you could share some photos of your labs with us.

Have a great day.. bet you are having slightly nicer weather over there than us! lol!

Julie
 

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Just as a short aside, they are no longer only in the more southern european countries. Ther are turning up in Belgium as well the last few years as we seem to experience warmer weather in the spring months.
 

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Caterpillars

Hi bradleysmum. We live in Athens and since I just moved in a new house it didn't occur to me to spray the gardens for these horrid beings. You are right. We were very scared and horrified least of all because it took us about an hour and a half to realize what it was. It was 3 am so it wasn't easy to find a clinic open at the time. Her tongue swell up and we were lucky in a way that the symptoms included the blackening of the tongue or else I wouldn't have figured out what it was since poor baby was in horrible pain. I hope that my story too can highlight the dangers and show that if you act quickly everything can be saved!
I don't know how to post photos yet!! Next time! Thanks again![/img]
 

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So pleased your pup is ok now!

We ended up not moving to Spain and thankfully never found them in Belgium 8O or elsewhere in Europe. Horrid, horrid caterpillars!!
 

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Update caterpillars

Hi. I have an update on Liza. She's doing better and will be discharged today from hospital. I'm quite sad though since the vet said that she still might lose parts of the edge of her tongue since necrosis progresses within a couple of days. I'm trying to look at the bright side and not be too depressed since her spirits are fine and vet says she's happy. Do you think that's since she's a puppy (4 months) she' ll be able to get used to life with a disability like that.? I've never had a dog with a disability and don't know how she'll cope. I love her like crazy like all my other dogs ( I have a yorkie as well as the two labs) and it kills me that poor baby might be suffering.
 

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Oh dear. Just discovered these bloody things in the garden and of course Alfie will snarffle anything. The neighbor has a huge pine tree and I can see several nests. Rang the Mairie (town hall) but they do not do anything about them.

He's puked a few times this afternoon, but do not know if it is related. I've put the ones I found in a sealed bag (ziploc).

He seems OK now, but I guess I'll have to keep close eye on him as not sure if he contacted them or not.
 

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And the bloody things are back.

It's been quite warm the last few days. Went out in the garden to enjoy an evening 'apéro' and looked on the fence and freaked out - one of these stinking things on the fence. Rushed pooches inside and discovered more in the garden (swiftly put in a Ziploc bag and burned in the fireplace.)

The problem is the neighbor has two old pine trees with nests. I really don't know what to do. He can't do anything as he is 87 and in hospital (I don't think he will come back home TBH, or if he does it will be over the road in the family plot.)

Sadly garden now out of bounds - and it is finally nice out for the woofs :-(
 

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Oh Tim, what a bummer. :(

We're fortunate to have no pines near us and the dogs have enjoyed being outside. The bloody grass is growing in front of my eyes. It's too wet to get the tractor out though.
 

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We had one (strangely was orginally planted by neighbor when he owned the place) but we cut it down two years ago.

But he has two that have nests. We told our other neighbor as they have a St Bernard who is always outdoors in the garden.

I don't really know what to do or how long they will be around. It's an even bigger pain as George refuses to go down the stairs inside, so the only way to get him downstairs is via the steps off our bedroom and in the garden.
 

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:(
Hope you can find a way of clearing the neighbours garden of them :(
 

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OH is going to the "Marie" (town hall). I don't hold out much hope with them.

There are several departmental agencies but I cannot seem to find contact details for the one in our department.

This is the sort of time I really hate living here :-(
 

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Well luchtime update:

Well weather is marevelous and it is a shame I can't let the dogs out (this after what seems like 10 months of rain.) They have been taken out for 'mini walkies) though I have not had visual confirmation that KPIs have been met (Key Poo Indicators)

That said whilst I took them out at lunch time, OH saw one of the neighbors (the other farming family in the village) and as I was leaving I heard a chain saw going: His wife was up on the JCB (the ones that can extend the scoop bit) cutting out the nests with a chain saw 8O

OH didn't get to speak to the mairie this morning and hopefully has done so this afternoon.
 

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My sister lives in Spain and is surrounded by olive groves. her neighbour has a large fir tree, by large I mean VERY large. It has a preservation order on it, so can't be cut down. It's alive with those bl**dy caterpillars. She's been caught by walking under the tree without thinking and has had to go to the Dr for help. Luckily her dogs can't get near the tree. Their neighbour has tried to get permission to cut down the tree, but has been refused. It's quite near to his house and is starting to be a real problem.
 
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