January to March in the Northern Costa Blanca is a most beautiful time of year. The almond blossoms are in full bloom and flora and fauna starts to spring back to life.
But what’s this – Candyfloss in pine trees? These spherical nests are home to the processionary caterpillar. Hanging, precariously from the lower, sun-bathed branches of indigenous pine trees, these nests hide an irritating secret!
Around the beginning of March the fully developed yellowish/brown caterpillar emerges from its nest to make the journey down the tree trunk, eating the pine needles in its track. It’s a curious sight as the grubs “follow the leader” in a long procession – hence the name – to a warm patch of soil. Here they burrow and pupate to complete their metamorphosis into adult life as a fairly inconspicuous moth. Now to reveal the hidden secret!
The tiny hairs on the caterpillar carry a toxin that is highly irritating to both humans and animals so beware the temptation to stop these little fellas in their tracks. Best keep an eye on domestic cats and dogs, also. Look out for any signs of distress such as vomiting or difficulty breathing and if you suspect your beloved pet may have come into contact with the caterpillars then a swift visit to the local vets is in order.
They’ll soon be able to remedy the situation. Hopefully, you won’t see too many of the nests as local councils are pretty good at ridding the culprits in the early stages. However, if you do I’d give them a wide berth and just admire them from a safe distance!