Pine Processionary: The definitive guide and how to eliminate it

pine processionary

There are many insects and bugs that usually appear when you have gardens, many of which we would like to avoid. Such is the case of the processionary or pine processionary caterpillar, which has been in charge of frightening all the lovers of these beautiful coniferous plants.

And is that this horrifying bichillo not only promotes defoliation, but also represents a threat to health.

Thus, not only plants are affected by their presence, because the same happens with people and animals.

Obviously, nobody wants to put your health, your pet’s or your pine bush’s health at risk.

So we have designed the final guide for the processionary and how to eliminate it, to help reduce this problem.

What is the processionary?

what is processionary

The processionary, also called the pine processionary caterpillar, is a worm that lives and attacks coniferous plants such as pine.

These caterpillars are characterized by being covered with stinging hairs that make them a real danger of nature.

The name of processionary is given to him because he tends to carry out a serpentine procession of many of these caterpillars.

This procession can usually be seen in pine forests, or also in urbanized sites where planted pines are available.

As for its distribution, it is usually in the pine forests located to the south and center of Europe, as well as in North Africa and the Near East.

However, it can also be found in trees such as cedar and fir, which usually defoliate.

Regarding its life cycle, the egg-laying processionary begins approximately in the month of August.

This bug forms very easy to distinguish nests because it looks like a cotton candy wrapped in the tree.

After a month of the laying of eggs, the larvae or caterpillars of pine are born, and between the months of January and March they go down in search of soft earth to bury themselves, form a cocoon and finally become a butterfly.

Thus, once this metamorphosis is completed, the reproductive cycle of these terrible and dangerous plagues begins again.

Why does processionary appear?

processionary nest

Now that you know what the processionary is, you will surely be wondering what are the causes of its appearance.

Well, as you know, these worms like to live in pine trees and coniferous plants, like cedar.

Therefore, if you have these plants in your garden or live near pine forests, you may see them there.

Also, another cause of the appearance of these bichillos are high temperatures and lack of rain.

That is why, when winter comes to an end and spring arrives, the processionary is often seen plaguing all kinds of pines.

And it is that, although it is true that he prefers black pine, this vermin can also affect other specimens.

Thus, Canarian pine, Aleppo pine, stone pine and Scots pine are also part of its victims.

habitat of the processionary

Generally, the butterflies of the pine processionary leave at the beginning of May, mating and depositing their eggs in the trees.

After 30 or 40 days, the eggs hatch and the caterpillars are born, which 30 days later have stinging hairs.

The pine processionary form their nests as a kind of silk pockets that they use as shelter during the winter.

Of course, these nests are on the trees and look more like a kind of matted cotton.

Once in the spring, the caterpillars descend from the tree and look for a place to bury themselves to become pupae.

Arrived the summer, the butterflies leave the earth and go in search of pine trees to start a new cycle.

Types or species of processionary

species of processionary

Actually, the processionary does not have species or types in which to divide, since it is always the same caterpillar.

However, it can be associated with different kinds of pine, such as those mentioned in the previous segment.

Also, this bug can be seen in 4 different stages, which are: egg, larva, chrysalis and adult butterfly.

As for appearance, the pine processionary larva is characterized by having hundreds of stinging hairs covering its body.

They can vary in their tonalities, although it is very frequent to see them of dark color with long hairs between yellow and white.

In its adult stage, the butterflies of the pine processionary are quite similar to moths.

Almost always they are seen in light brown, with the head and body covered with small hairs.

Processionary sting

processionary sting

Actually, the pine processionary does not tip stings or bites to people or animals.

However, this does not mean that it does not have any harmful effect on our health or that of our pets.

On the contrary, the simple contact with this caterpillar can generate serious complications and become a real emergency.

And the body of this animal is covered with stinging hairs that break off and fly there.

So, when you come into contact with any of them, an irritation of the ears, nose and throat may appear.

Also, allergic reactions such as rash or rash may appear on the neck, arms, legs and abdomen.

Usually, the urticaria ends up giving up spontaneously, although in sensitive people the symptoms may worsen.

In that case, the irritation can last several weeks and end up causing complications at the respiratory level.

Thus, although these bichillos do not puncture or bite, they can affect us with the simple contact of their horrendous hairs.

Therefore, it is really important to stay away from the processionary, using different measures to control it, in case of infestation.

Are processionary dangerous?

are processionary dangerous

If you paid attention to the previous section, you will already know that the processionary is a bug more than dangerous.

As we have mentioned, this caterpillar is covered with small hairs that can cause urticaria at the touch.

In such a way, people and pets can present severe irritations when touching the larvae of the pine processionary.

In the case of animals, their curiosity about the movement of these animals may cause them to ingest them.

This can cause urticaria and even conjunctivitis, resulting in the administration of anti-inflammatory treatments.

Also, the application of a snuff and stomach wash may be required to avoid further damage.

In this case, if a pet usually wanders through areas surrounded by pine trees, it is important to pay close attention.

Thus, if you have inflammation or symptoms of contact with a processionary, it is necessary to go to the veterinarian urgently.

In case you ask, the same effects usually apply in the case of human.

dangers of processionary

The contact with the caterpillar’s stinging hairs can generate severe irritations and alarming allergic reactions on the skin.

Reddish welts, burning and itching are some of the symptoms that galling can cause with this animal.

Also, conjunctivitis may appear in the affected person, in addition to respiratory distress in the most severe cases.

If you come into contact with one of these caterpillars, you should go to the doctor as an emergency.

The health specialist will decide if an antihistamine or corticosteroid should be applied to control the reaction.

How to eliminate pine processionary?

how to eliminate processionary

There are different measures that can be applied to eliminate the pine processionary, and here we leave some of them.

Make a plastic and water trap

A simple alternative to finish with the caterpillars is to place a hard plastic adhered to the perimeter of the trunk of the tree.

On this plastic should be abundant water, so that when the caterpillars go down, they end up drowning.

Unearth the pupae

As you know, when the caterpillars come down from the tree, they crawl until they find a suitable area to bury themselves and cry out.

Usually, they do it in the vicinity of the pine and leave evidence that they are underground.

Thus, if you see a mound of sand removed, about 15 cm in diameter, there will be a processionary.

What you should do is dig it up and get rid of it, preferably burning it with a lighter.

Use pheromone traps

Another way to kill the pine processionary is to use synthetic pheromones from the female to attract the male.

If the male of the species is caught, it is not possible for these bugs to reproduce and, goodbye problem!

If all this fails, do not hesitate to consult with a pest control specialist to obtain a solution.

Home remedies to eradicate processionary

If you have an invasion of processionary in your plants, you may want to try these homemade alternatives to eliminate them.

home remedies to eradicate processionary

Manual collection

The simplest way to kill these bugs is to collect them with your own hand.

Of course you will not do it without protection, you must use gloves or tweezers to catch these dangerous bichillos.

Also, if they have formed nests in the trees, you must remove them to prevent them from proliferating.

The most advisable is to take a lighter and ignite candela caterpillars and their nests.

Water and soap

This is one of the most practical, accessible and effective options to control infestations by caterpillars and other bugs.

To prepare this home remedy, take a spray bottle and fill it with dish soap and water.

Next, sprinkle the mixture on the plants affected by the processionary and you will see that they leave it.


pine processionary home remedies

Another quite effective alternative to eliminate the pine processionary is to use a bit of tobacco.

Take a pack of cigarettes and place them in a pan with boiling water.

If you usually smoke and you have ashes in a container, you can use these instead of whole cigarettes.

Then, pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on the plants, without abuse.

Be very careful because if you throw too much mixture, you can end up damaging your pines.

This will serve to frighten the processionary and keep them away from your garden or garden.

More tricks to kill processionary

If all the above has not worked or does not convince you at all, maybe you can try the following.

Introduces natural predators

more tricks to kill processionary

Yes, it may sound crazy, but taking certain animals to your garden can help you solve this small problem.

In case you do not know, the processionary is commonly the prey of insectivorous birds such as coal tits and blue tits.

Also, bats, wasps, ants and cicadas are also predators of this horrendous bug.

In that case, you can promote the stay of these animals in the areas where you have pine trees that you want to protect.

For example, you can place houses and bird feeders in your garden, and it will surely attract them.

Maybe you do not like the idea, but it’s always an option you can count on.

Bacillus Thuringiensis

other tricks to kill pine processionary

The last option that you can explore to mitigate the problem of the processionary is the Bacillus Thuringiensis.

It is a product that can be easily found in nurseries, and that includes a bacterium with natural toxins that, when mixed with water and applied in sprays, can help eliminate these bugs.

The effect of this product is such that it penetrates the plant and when the insect ingests it, it ends up being poisoned.

The only problem is that it only serves to put an end to the pine processionary in its larval stage.

Therefore, it is not really the best alternative when you have adult worms, requiring other measures.

However, if the product is applied every 5 days during the infestation season, it is possible to prevent its maturation.

If you are interested, this product is ecological and can be used to take care of the gardens without causing any damage.


Now that you know all about the processionary and how to eliminate it, you can keep your pines healthy and without these caterpillars.

However, if the problem is exacerbated, do not hesitate to contact a pest control specialist.

He will evaluate if it is an infestation by these bugs and can prescribe the appropriate treatment to eradicate them.

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