This may be considered an early warning, as it is usually noted that Pine Processionary Caterpillars, start to appear in Cyprus in March and early April.
However, in recent years they were spotted in mid-January, prior to that they appeared in early February in 2020/2019. So as the pattern suggests earlier sightings of this caterpillar, then a helpful reminder at this time may be early, but necessary.
The warmer, drier weather over recent years may have a role to play in the earlier sightings, but regardless walkers and dog owners should be extra vigilant when walking in areas where there are pine trees.
This is due to the potential presence of these toxic caterpillars known as Pine Processionary Caterpillars, which 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 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.
The main advice is to not go near them - keep your children, dogs and other pets away from trees you suspect might be host to processionary caterpillars and their nests.
January 18th 2021
These photos were taken by our contributing photographer Phil Parker in the Peyia area:
February 10th 2020
These photos were taken by Stephen Green in the Potamos area:
February 2nd 2019
These photos were also taken by Phil Parker in Kalavasos:
Check out this video below from Youtube:
Aerial spraying against the insect “Pine Processionary Caterpillar” started in December 2022 and continues through January, in forested areas, according to an announcement by the Forestry Department.