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Processionary Pine Caterpillars – Lethal Wildlife in Spain

Processionary Pine Caterpillars – Lethal Wildlife in Spain

Overlanding in Spain can throw up a multitude of challenges just like anywhere else however, when it comes to Mother Nature there is one critter that you need to be aware of and those are the processionary pine caterpillars. These caterpillars can be found in other European countries but can be seen annually in Spain – these caterpillars are dangerous, here’s why:

In Spain, processionary pine caterpillars are most frequently found in pine trees, they are regarded as a real pest are not pleasant to say the least, unfortunately for us overlanders they are found in many of the places we like to explore such as woodland.

The caterpillars are toxic to humans and pets, each is covered in tiny barbed hairs which, when come into contact with can in some cases cause severe allergic reaction, there are horror stories all over the internet about people losing their pets to these caterpillars and the risk is real.

Processionary Pine Caterpillars
Processionary pine caterpillars in Andalucian woodland

When to find them

Normally between January and April although this can vary slightly either way, the caterpillars turn into moths around May/June time.

Where will they be?

For the overlander or camper you will most likely see them in wooded areas with pine trees – there may be the odd nest or there could be hundreds. Nests can also be found in individual trees such as in the garden and on occasion in trees other than pine.

spanish pine caterpillars
Caterpillar nests, Granada mountains

What do they look like?

The nests which can be seen hanging from tree branches are white and have a silky appearance, the nests are full of the caterpillars which will eventually drop out. The other way you may come across them is, as the name suggests in ‘procession’, there can be hundreds in any one line and they can be seen marching on the ground.

processionary pine caterpillars nest
a typical nest in pine trees

Pet contact

If you take your dog overlanding with you and these caterpillars are about then it is crucial that you keep your dog on a lead, we all know how inquisitive our best friends can be but any contact can prove fatal. Swelling of the tongue, vomiting and distress are tell tale signs and you may see white spots around the mouth area. Immediate attention is to wash the mouth area with water [use gloves as to not come into contact yourself] and then directly to the vet where a cortisone injection will be administered.

Human contact

If you do come in to contact with any of these caterpillars then you [or the person who has] need to be monitored closely, people react in different ways, for some it may be similar to a nettle sting, for others it can be anaphylactic shock. An signs of swelling, strong pain or breathing problems then medical attention needs to be sought immediately – for kids, call emergency [112] straight away and make your way to the nearest hospital or medical center.

In conclusion

Processionary pine caterpillars are a real threat to your dogs and to you, we cannot stress enough how important it is to stay away from these creatures if you are out overlanding or camping particularly as given our favourite pass time means that you will more than likely be a long way from a vet or medical assistance should you need either.

1800 1197 Mac


K90overland is Mac and Gayle, they lived in Andalucia for 19 years before moving back to the UK. Overlanding since 2019 the pair have built up a 'budget rig' and now enjoy a relaxed approach to discovering Scotland and the north of England.


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