Spring is when the chenilles processionaires – processionary caterpillars – come down from their pine trees and are found wriggling in procession across our land.
The caterpillar hairs are sufficiently toxic to seriously harm children or animals. So, thinking of Poppy and the imminent arrival of grandchidren, I shelled out to have two guys come – dressed in white protective clothing and with masks – to climb up a ladder and, with the aid of a special long handled implement, bring down eight nests in my pine tree.
I was able to relax – until I spotted the arrival of two more nests. I don’t understand how, as the nests are supposed to be built at the start of winter. At least, only two, I thought. Then the day I brought Poppy back after her scary haircut, I spotted a line of 20 or so caterpillars right beside the car. I bundled Poppy indoors (further traumatising her) while I disposed of the caterpillars. (Yes I’m afraid this means burning them, having first doused them with water so the hairs don’t fly round in the air.)
Two days ago, unbelievably, the same thing. I got out of the car to see a circle of the damned things (unusual, as they are normally in a long line). Once again, I had to lock Poppy up inside.
There remains nest up in my tree – I will have to do a daily check once the children arrive.
The first photo is the remaining nest in my tree, the second is a pine in the land opposite my entrance. The first two photos of the caterpillars are from the first nest and the third from the second.