The processionary caterpillar is a lepidopteran insect that in its larva stage is covered with hairs that are stinging on contact with the skin of domestic animals and people. These hairs, which completely cover the body of the caterpillars, are easily detached from them and can even be transported by strong air currents. In the following article, we will know the dangers that the processionary caterpillar generates in pets.
The appearance of the processionary caterpillar occurs in spring. In general, they do not seek interaction with pets or humans, since the large nests in the tops of the pines seek to bury themselves with speed to continue their transformation. But, sometimes, they can reach the most urbanized areas, entering gardens that expose our pets to the dangers of contact with the processionary caterpillar.
Two essential aspects are combined to expose dogs and cats to the dangers of relating to a processionary caterpillar; the first, the intrinsic curiosity of our pets; the second, the striking of the insect, since its morphology can draw attention away.
The pet that detects it will want to sniff and even “taste” this strange being that transits its yard and that is where it is exposed to the caterpillar’s stinging hairs, with the different dangers that this contact entails; the greater the passion for investigating the insect, the more serious the consequences for our pet may be.

¿How does the processionary caterpillar affect the animals?

In case of only sniffing the processionary caterpillar, the animal will be exposed to a picture of allergy; Now, if he comes to lick the insect, following his instinct to know more, he runs the risk of developing a partial and even total necrosis of the tongue.
More serious cases have been recorded in relation to the ingestion of a processionary caterpillar by pets, which causes a strong inflammation and can cause the animal to suffocate and trigger its death.
There are two risk factors that we must attend to avoid the contact of our pet with the processionary caterpillar: the time of year in which the caterpillars appear in their phase of larva, which is early spring, and pine groves . In case of exposing ourselves in this season of the year to contact with conifers, we must take care that our pet is not in contact with these insects.
The symptoms that can present a dog or cat that has sniffed or licked a processionary caterpillar, are the following:

  • He has a nervous mood, outside of his daily attitude.
  • Start scratching with despair.
  • Start salivating too much, trying to drink much more liquid than usual.
  • You have some type of swelling in your tongue or skin.
  • It has a red or violet color on the tongue.
  • Blisters or ulcers form in different areas.

When identifying this possible contact, it is essential to go as soon as possible to the veterinary emergency, in order to provide the necessary attention. If you know you have a long journey to get there, you can rinse the affected area with water or saline, remembering not to rub.