Subject: Caterpillar Procession
Location: Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland
May 24, 2013 1:57 am
I photographed these caterpillars in mid-April at Monte Verita, in the hills above Ascona, Switzerland. The length of the caterpillar procession was around 6 feet. They were moving pretty quickly, clearing the path in under 10 minutes. It was a warm day, between 75 and 80 degrees, and one of the first warm days of the season in the area from what I was told.
Thought you might be interested. We love your site- thank you for all you do!!
Signature: Jennifer P.
Thanks so much for sending us your photos of the Pine Processionary Moth Caterpillars, Thaumetopoea pityocampa. According to the Wildlife in France website: “In the spring, anytime from February until May, the caterpillars leave the trees and go down to the ground, this is when we will see them forming their long nose to tail processions as they make their way to find a place in the soil to pupate, the period of pupation can last a couple of months or several years. They actually touch each other to make a long chain, hence the common name of Pine processionary moth.” The Pine Processionary Moth Caterpillars should not be handled because, according to the UK Forestry Commission website: “caterpillars represent a public health hazard because they have thousands of hairs which contain an urticating, or irritating, protein called thaumetopoein. These hairs can be blown by the wind into contact with people and animals, resulting in painful skin irritations and rashes and, in some cases, allergic reactions in some people and animals.”
This must have been a very impressive procession to watch.