Thaumetopoea pityocampa

Portuguese status: Widespread and Common

Pine Processionary Caterpillar - These are very destructive moths in several ways! The caterpillars of this short lived moth lays eggs in pine trees from where the caterpillars eat the tender pine needles and can totally defoliate the tree. They affect a lot of fir trees in southern Europe. They are seen clumped together by day then often start on a head to toe march to feed hence the name. The hairy body is i t's main defence causing irritations to humans which can cause serious allergies. The hairs penetrate cattle, dogs, pigs and other inquisitive animals have even been known to die from the penetration of the hook shaped hairs. Photographed in Vilamoura Portugal.

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