Oak and pine procession larvae are officially classified as harmful to health

These particularly stinging insects, which reproduce in pine and oak trees, are dangerous to humans but also to animals. A decree dated April 25 adds them to the list of species whose spread is harmful to human health.

You must have seen them: larvae moving on or under the trees in a single file …

With global warming they have made the country their territory and with the spring the forty procession larvae – Thaumetopoea pityocampa and eg -Thaumetopoea processionea was out again.

On the Mediterranean coast, they are now buried for a new cycle, crystallizes and butterflies in July.

Since April 25, the larvae are (finally) considered “harmful animals” to health. A decree has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, procession larvae will therefore be included in the Public Health Act.

The larva does not really affect the health of the plant, it weakens the tree but does not kill it. The problem is when the rate of attack is high in places that welcome the public, gardens, schools, hospitals …

Lucile Arnaud, Pest Control Coordinator Garden and Green Areas FREDON PACA

Another decree issued the same day FREDON-FRANCE appoints a network of experts – who oversee the Observatory for Species at Risk to Human Health – to coordinate measures for the prevention and control of these insects.

It is therefore this network of healthcare organizations – one for each region – that will coordinate the actions according to the prefecture’s decrees taken locally.

Here is the butterfly – Thaumetopoea pityocampa, whose eggs laid in August will give rise to the processional larva. There will be a total of 8 stages in this year cycle.

And it is against this butterfly that part of the struggle takes place.

It is per period. There are years when there are many procession larvae, others smaller. In PACA, the attack rate is high, but less than in other regions, it is a battle on all fronts.

Some municipalities have chosen pheromone bursts, during the period when the butterflies lay eggs.

In Saint-Laurent-du-Var or Hyères, for example, the option chosen consists of firing a mixture of sexual confusion pheromones, water and wax to prevent the reproduction of butterflies. Organic, nothing but organic, with the idea of ​​saturating the atmosphere around the trees.

Cagnes-sur-Mer, for its part, has decided to catch the larvae as they descend from the trees with bags, eco-traps, that hold them.

Other municipalities or individuals have placed nesting boxes for tits, cuckoos or bats, these animals, which in moderation devour these larvae, pupae or butterflies.

For Lucile Arnaud, eradicating procession larvae is a combination of all these actions, which must be performed at the right time of year and every year!

The larval hairs are particularly prickly to the touch. Allergies, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, respiratory diseases, the effects can be dangerous to health.

Some tips:

  • Avoid visiting areas near infested pine trees, wear coveralls if you go to these areas after all.
  • Avoid contact with larvae and nests.
  • No sweeping procession of larvae that would create a cloud of prickly hair.
  • No laundry outside near the pine trees in strong winds.

In case of contact, where the prickly hairs get stuck in the hair and clothes, it is recommended to:

  • A lukewarm shower with careful washing of the hair with shampoo.
  • Wash contaminated clothing above 60 ° C.

For animals, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

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