Updated: Nov 7, 2021
We have a couple of these........
First, in an umbrella pine in the garden there is a nest of pine processionary caterpillars (young caterpillars at this time of year). I first spotted it when out photographing the fabulous frosts we had last week. This has got to go. They are a total menace and very dangerous, particularly to dogs or cats who have a natural curiosity, but also to people. The caterpillar gets its name from its behaviour. When the caterpillars emerge from the nests in spring they make their way across the ground in a procession as they look for somewhere to bury themselves beneath the ground and pupate. They are usually joined nose to tail as they process along the ground and look almost like a small snake as they wriggle across the grass.
The hairs on the caterpillar's body are highly irritating to the skin. A curious dog or cat (or a child) which touches one or, worse still, tries to pick them up in its mouth can suffer serious respiratory problems as the hairs irritate the animal's mouth and throat. You do not even have to touch the caterpillar. If it is stressed it can fire the hairs like mini harpoons. So - we appear to have only one nest and are going to cut it out and burn it.
Second problem neighbour is a nest of Asiatic hornets living high up in a (human) neighbour's poplar tree. These nests only become visible when the leaves fall off the trees in autumn, so there is no way our neighbour could have known about it until recently. Anyway, the whole village seems aware of the problem as our immediate (and very friendly) neighbour, another human, who is president of the village chasse (hunt) has already been to see us about it and explain that it is going to be 'removed'. The hornet's nest is a reminder to me to put out hornet traps very early this year. If you catch and kill a queen hornet on a warm February or March day you will stop the formation of one of these huge, rugby ball shaped nests.
The next blog is going to be on a more cheerful topic