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Move away from the toxic caterpillars!

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
In spring you're likely to encounter Pine Processional Caterpillars. You might see their nests, which look like cotton candy / candy floss or you might see them on the move in a conga-line procession. (This photo is from a friend of mine who is walking in the south of Spain today).

You can find lots of information online about the Pine Processional Caterpillar:

If you come across these things, move away. Their hairs can cause severe irritation and potentially serious reactions.
- Don't handle them, even with gloves.
- Don't step on them. You might transport hairs on your shoes which could touch someone's skin later.
- Don't hang around near them. When they moult, the hairs can float in the air.

The advice that I have found in case you develop a rash is as follows. (If anyone has better advice, please contribute)..
- Remove contaminated clothing. Wrap it in a plastic bag.
- Use sticky tape to pick up hairs that may be on your skin
- Wash the affected area with water
- Seek medical attention
d1976ea5-5f42-4d59-80b7-1868c158550a.JPG

53894
 
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NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztan, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués. Future: Madrid (2019)
Interesting! Thanks for sharing.
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
Good advice!

They're a real problem in SW France too. My friend's dog lost half of his tongue after finding some... he was lucky to survive. Another friend is a gardener and he accidentally disturbed a nest and was covered in stings and was hospitalised for 2 days.

They are very unpleasant but lots of people are attracted to look at them (and take photos) because of the long processions... as you say, their hairs are a major issue... give them a very wide berth.
 

Stroller123

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning Italy to Finisterre and back (20xx)
Every year in this season there is an invasion of them in my town. Council keeps on issuing disinfestation orders for private lands, but no one cares. :(
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
Does anybody know how long their 'season' last? Are they gonna be around at the beginning of May?
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Ran into lines and lines of them crossing roads on the Camino Aragones at the end of April last year! Fascinating processions with endless numbers of caterpillars (easily in the thousands). This was about 15 miles from Pamplona, so I’d imagine you could run into them on the CF, too.60781C97-3DA2-4819-9FE0-2398903EC4B5.png9686CC1B-8F67-488C-9CCC-C211D850C8CA.png
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Does anybody know how long their 'season' last? Are they gonna be around at the beginning of May?
The season is "Late winter to early spring," but that will vary from year to year and region to region. I guess you're less likely to see them in May, but you might come across a nest or something. Forewarned is forearmed.

I’d imagine you could run into them on the CF, too.
For sure. There are even some colonies of these caterpillars in London. Warmer temperatures have allowed them to migrate northward.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2016, CP 2017, Jakobsweg Ulm-Constance 2017-2018, Via Jacobi 2018, (Via Gebennensis 2019)
Does anybody know how long their 'season' last? Are they gonna be around at the beginning of May?
I am pretty sure they will around at the beginning of May. When I first encountered these creatures here in southeast Germany I knew right away what they were BECAUSE I had read all the warnings about them in this or some other pilgrim forums!!
DeEKxPVXcAAqk84.jpg:large.jpeg
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
Hmmm, we'll see what happens :) Thanks for the interesting picture.
 

sugargypsy

Member
Camino(s) past & future
First one planned for May 2019: Camino Francés
I am pretty sure they will around at the beginning of May. When I first encountered these creatures here in southeast Germany I knew right away what they were BECAUSE I had read all the warnings about them in this or some other pilgrim forums!!
In Germany there are pine trees, but we don't have the climate for those caterpillars (except close to the southwest border of Germany - Pfalz/Elsass/Freiburg, check here).

But: Look out for oaks ;). We've got no Pine Processional Caterpillar, but sadly the
Oak Processionary Moth.

Problems and treatment as well seem to be similar. In Germany: Be careful at the beginning of May whereas the Pine Processiona Caterpillar starts in mid-April due to the higher temperature at that time in Spain (or Italy and Portugal).
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Vast numbers of caterpillars on the Camino Mozarabe near Cordoba last month. Literally millions - sometimes in huge mats and knots. I do not think they were processionary caterpillars but a different species. Since many hairy caterpillars are irritants I didn't try prodding them to find out!
IMG_20190211_114400.jpg IMG_20190211_114111.jpg
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2016, CP 2017, Jakobsweg Ulm-Constance 2017-2018, Via Jacobi 2018, (Via Gebennensis 2019)
In Germany there are pine trees, but we don't have the climate for those caterpillars (except close to the southwest border of Germany - Pfalz/Elsass/Freiburg, check here).

But: Look out for oaks ;). We've got no Pine Processional Caterpillar, but sadly the
Oak Processionary Moth.

Problems and treatment as well seem to be similar. In Germany: Be careful at the beginning of May whereas the Pine Processiona Caterpillar starts in mid-April due to the higher temperature at that time in Spain (or Italy and Portugal).
Correct, Sugargypsy. Thank you for the corrections! The spelling mistake (I did mean southwest) and the fact. I really was not reading carefully enough and was speaking of the different yucky caterpillar, the oak one. Anyway, you need to stay away from them as well!
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
Does anybody know how long their 'season' last? Are they gonna be around at the beginning of May?
Hi @Gabe_Way, I see that you are starting this May from SJPP. I've not seen them on the Camino Frances and don't know whether people encounter them there, be it the dangerous oak processionary caterpillars or or the equally dangerous pine processionary caterpillars. The forest around SJPP is beech trees, btw. Famously so actually.

We've crossed path with them on the voie de Tours (Paris to SJPP), I think end of March, and there is currently a post on the forum of someone who is walking there, has been warned of them and encountered them, so that's around the same time in the same area.

But it all depends on region and weather.
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
Hi @Gabe_Way, I see that you are starting this May from SJPP. I've not seen them on the Camino Frances and don't know whether people encounter them there, be it the dangerous oak processionary caterpillars or or the equally dangerous pine processionary caterpillars. The forest around SJPP is beech trees, btw. Famously so actually.

We've crossed path with them on the voie de Tours (Paris to SJPP), I think end of March, and there is currently a post on the forum of someone who is walking there, has been warned of them and encountered them, so that's around the same time in the same area.

But it all depends on region and weather.
Ok, thanks. So, looks like May it'd be a better month in terms of processionary caterpillars. And beech trees shouldn't be a problem. The potentially harmful ones are the Pine's I guess.
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
The potentially harmful ones are the Pine's I guess.
Pine processionary caterpillars seem to create particularly bad reactions. But as people have pointed out, there are other caterpillars that can cause skin irritations.
 

MelissaOb

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2019)
Ah we met some pine processionary ones - outside Melide, I think, a few days ago.... didn’t know what they were at the time... fascinating the way they move BUT thankfully our instinct was to stay away!
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
Thanks for posting! We have similar looking catepillars in SC but they are friendly and harmless. I've been playing with these innocent creatures since I was a kid so I would've been in trouble had I not seen this post.
 

MaineSally

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cam Frances SJPDP to Santiago ('17): Finisterre ('17); Muxia ('17)
Camino Portuguese - April ('19)
Does anybody know how long their 'season' last? Are they gonna be around at the beginning of May?
These look like the brown tail moth caterpillars here in the U.S. It's not a matter of a season. They molt, the hairs drift and those hairs remain problematic in leaf matter, lawns, forested areas for years! Likely the pharmacies there have their best practice approach stocked and ready. Here in Maine, Sarna lotion is one approach as well as Tecnu. Tecnu is a skin cleanser used for poison ivy and oak. It's best to keep covered up. My husband keeps his lawn mowing/garden clothes, which cover him from head to toe, in a bag in the garage. Putting items in the washing machine doesn't seem to remove the hairs, and I don't want to introduce them to other clothing items. The brown tails hit oak and apple trees here, but stay away from the pines. The rash and itching can be relentless and last for months, and those dealing
with respiratory issues can really suffer.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
In spring you're likely to encounter Pine Processional Caterpillars. You might see their nests, which look like cotton candy / candy floss or you might see them on the move in a conga-line procession. (This photo is from a friend of mine who is walking in the south of Spain today).

You can find lots of information online about the Pine Processional Caterpillar:

If you come across these things, move away. Their hairs can cause severe irritation and potentially serious reactions.
- Don't handle them, even with gloves.
- Don't step on them. You might transport hairs on your shoes which could touch someone's skin later.
- Don't hang around near them. When they moult, the hairs can float in the air.

The advice that I have found in case you develop a rash is as follows. (If anyone has better advice, please contribute)..
- Remove contaminated clothing. Wrap it in a plastic bag.
- Use sticky tape to pick up hairs that may be on your skin
- Wash the affected area with water
- Seek medical attention
View attachment 53894

View attachment 53894
First time I saw these was in March 2013. I was absolutely fascinated by them but thankfully did not touch them. The lines crossing the path on the way out of Logrono were so many, I sat down on a bench to watch and then the cyclists came along. Lines were being devastated and I thought that was awful. Some time later when I found out how dangerous they were, I lost all sympathy for them 😂😂
 

Bluedog

Austin, Texas
Camino(s) past & future
None yet. Departing from Lisbon on April 17 (2019)
Interesting. Thanks!

They look like harmless webworms. I never would have guessed.
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
54341

Just about a kilometer or so from Santa Catalina de Somoza I noticed a couple of these in February. I recall seeing a few last year in a similar spot outside of SCdS. Creepy looking and gave me the willies. Pictures don't do any justice to the creepiness. :eek:

I'm very happy to know what they are now and will keep a bit more distance.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
In case your are walking in Germany and you see these warning signes head them. They are called Eichenprozessionspinner. Usually soon they are spotted the Forrester get right in action. In Spain and Italy you find their cousins on pines same defense mechanism. They are night active and return in morning to their nest. They are supposed to get to the pupa state middle of April and start flying as butterflies in May. But I guess that depends on the warmth.54428

I read as recommendation when in contact. Shower take affected clothes of the fine hair can act on your skin, rash, breathing problems, worst anaphylactic shock. So have your antisitamine ready. Here we say stay on the ways don’t walk under the nest and protective clothes.
 
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Kimtom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances on bike (2014)
Frances on foot (2019)
In spring you're likely to encounter Pine Processional Caterpillars. You might see their nests, which look like cotton candy / candy floss or you might see them on the move in a conga-line procession. (This photo is from a friend of mine who is walking in the south of Spain today).

You can find lots of information online about the Pine Processional Caterpillar:

If you come across these things, move away. Their hairs can cause severe irritation and potentially serious reactions.
- Don't handle them, even with gloves.
- Don't step on them. You might transport hairs on your shoes which could touch someone's skin later.
- Don't hang around near them. When they moult, the hairs can float in the air.

The advice that I have found in case you develop a rash is as follows. (If anyone has better advice, please contribute)..
- Remove contaminated clothing. Wrap it in a plastic bag.
- Use sticky tape to pick up hairs that may be on your skin
- Wash the affected area with water
- Seek medical attention
View attachment 53894

View attachment 53894
Thankyou so much for posting about this. On Mar 18 I came across some of the caterpillars alittle before Sahaghun, and two days later the welts started. I assumed I was having an allergic reaction to bedbugs but now I am certain that the welts were caused by the caterpillars (which I never touched directly) after researching images. I am in Santiago now and still using steroid cream for the itching though the swelling is down. I know several people with these symptoms but none were aware of the caterpillar toxins as the source.
 

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