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Home remedies for pine processionary

Home remedies for pine processionary

With the arrival of spring, the warmer temperatures begin, but it is also customary to come, 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 kinds of parks and environments in the Mediterranean area, can be dangerous due to its fine stinging hairs. Due to 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 pine processionaryjoin us in this EcologíaVerde 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 It 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 little pronounced eses.
  • Accustomed to infest the pines from central and southern Europe, as well as from North Africa and the Middle East. His favorite tree is the black pine, but other types of pine and even cedars and firs they are not safe from this plague.
  • 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 tangles of gray or whitish cotton on the branches or trunk.
  • When the heat comes back the caterpillars descend in their characteristic procession to find where to make their buried chrysalises. 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 hives reaction that cause the hairs can range from mild to very serious, and may be a medical emergency, depending on the amount of these and if the person or animal affected has allergies or not. Due to this, it is necessary to act against this plague as soon as possible and go directly to the doctor or the veterinarian in case of its attack, which for them is simply to defend themselves from someone who gets too close.
Home remedies for the pine processionary - What is the pine processionary and its characteristics

How to combat the pine processionary

There are different ways to combat this pest, such as with repellents and insecticides for the processionary or even resorting to phytosanitary products to combat the pine processionary. Here, however, we are going to focus on home remedies, such as cheats and direct action:

  • Biological pest control.
  • Hand picking.
  • Water with dishwashing soap.
  • Tobacco butts or ashes.
  • 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, because the sting 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 prohibited 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 him biological control of the pine processionaryin the affected area it is necessary to increase the population of animals that feed on them in their different phases, such as:

  • Ants
  • wasps
  • Cicadas
  • Bat
  • Dormouse
  • Blackbird
  • Chickadee
  • Cuckoo
  • Tit
  • Hoopoe
  • Magpie
  • Raven

In this other article we explain everything about Biological Pest Control: what it is, advantages, disadvantages and examples.

Home remedies for pine processionary caterpillar - Biological control of the pine processionary caterpillar is the best remedy

manual collection

If the area to be cleaned is small or there are not many of these caterpillars, this is the easiest 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 the trees or bushes, or you have seen the area where the caterpillars have buried themselves to form the chrysalises, eliminate the nests one by one or the adult chrysalises or caterpillars one by one by burning them, which is the most effective so that stinging hairs are also destroyed.

If you just step on the caterpillars, you will get the hairs on the soles of your shoes and end up contaminating your own home with them, causing the painful bites as well.

soapy water

This is also one of the home remedies for processionary as simple to prepare as it is effective, as well as being useful against a large number of common pests. For use soapy water against the processionaryLikewise, you will have to wear gloves and glasses and follow these steps.

  1. Add soap that you use to wash the dishes in a spray bottle with water and stir well.
  2. Spray abundantly your plants affected by caterpillars or nests, for which you may need to prepare several bottles or a can depending on the amount of pest there is, and the caterpillar pest itself will leave the area, since it is harmful to them.
  3. Repeat the treatment twice a day, at dawn and dusk, until the plague disappears.

Processionary caterpillar repellent with tobacco

The remains of the tobacco are also very effective in keeping the processionary away. Follow these steps to prepare a repellent for the processionary with tobacco:

  1. If you smoke or are around you, save your butts or tobacco ashes and add them to a base of water in a spray bottle.
  2. You can also use whole cigarettes directly, which should be boiled with water.
  3. Spray the mixture on the plants, although do not abuse or make it too concentrated or you could end up harming the pines and other trees or plants.
Home remedies for the pine processionary - Processionary caterpillar repellent with tobacco

Homemade traps for the pine processionary caterpillar

Another system is to prepare traps for the pine processionary. This is very useful when several trees are affected and we do not have time to be aware of the area on a regular basis.

  1. Take a piece of hard plastic and stick it all the way around the trunk of the tree, creating a space that you can fill with water, deep enough for the caterpillars to accumulate and die. However, note that if you have added natural predators of these, they will come more easily to catch them in this trap for the caterpillars.
  2. You will only need to be aware of refilling the water when it evaporates and that the plastic or container remains firm. This way you will know that practically none of the caterpillars will escape, in addition to the fact that their hairs will not be scattered.
  3. Of course, we have the option of using this trap without water to catch them and collect them by hand more easily, but being able to enclose them in the container and take them to a natural area, away from your own garden or land. Thus, we will avoid killing them.

In this other EcologíaVerde article we explain more about home remedies to eliminate caterpillars from plants.

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