With spring approaching, walkers and dog owners need to be extra vigilant when walking in areas where there are pine trees owing to the presence of toxic caterpillars known as Pine Processionary Caterpillars.
The Pine Processionary Caterpillars live in white nests and feed on the needles of pine trees and other conifer tree species. They are found widely throughout Europe and are common in both urban and residential areas in Cyprus.
In addition to the damage caused to the trees the caterpillars have thousands of fine hairs on their back containing a protein (thamentopoein) which can cause severe irritation, dermatitis and in some cases an allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) in both humans and animals. Luckily they are only extremely poisonous whilst in their caterpillar stage.
Due to a dogs naturally curious disposition dog owners are advised to keep their dogs on a lead while out walking in areas where the caterpillars may be or have been. Experts claim that people do not even need to come into direct contact with the bugs as their hairs are easily carried in the wind.
If you think that your dog has come in contact with them, you should immediately consult the nearest vet. Symptoms include gagging, vomiting, respiratory distress, inflammation of the mouth, swelling of the tongue, conjunctivitis and hyper-salivation.
If you cannot get to the vet quickly, then in the meantime you should flush the dog's mouth with plenty of water ensuring that the dog's head is angled downwards to prevent the caterpillar hairs from moving to the throat.
These stunning photos were taken by our contributing photographer Phil Parker in Kalavasos last week:
Read more about our contributing photographer Phil Parker
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