Thaumetopoea processionea: the oak processionary

The oak processionaries are parasites spread throughout Europe whose larvae feed on the leaves of this tree.The caterpillars of Thaumetopoea processionea are gray in color and have a strongly stinging hair and the stinging hairs alone dispersed by the wind can also cause disturbances to the ‘man. The larvae appear in April, are active during the night and move in groups to seek nourishment. During the day, however, the larvae gather in nests built on the branches or at the base of the oak trunk and, once their development is complete, the chrysalises move to a definitive nest (located in the stem of the plant) and then transform into moths. , in the summer months.The damage caused by these parasites is so serious that it sometimes causes the death of the tree.

Thaumetopoea pityocampa, the fearsome pest of pines

Thaumetopoea pityocampa (or pine processionary moth) finds its ideal habitat in the regions of southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East It is one of the most devastating parasites for forests because during its life cycle it is capable of destroying large stretches of pine forests. The plants most affected by the processionary are all those belonging to the genus Pinus and not infrequently they can also attack larches and cedars.The processionary lives in dense groups and is active only during the winter periods, as the rest of the year remains buried under the ground at the stage of chrysalis. Despite their modest size, the larvae of “Thaumetopoea pityocampa” have strong jaws capable of destroying needles from the first days of life and, when completely stripping a branch,

How to recognize the damage caused by processionaries

The processionary moth is a dangerous parasite that generally affects oak and pine trees.In autumn and winter, the attacks of Thaumetopoea pityocampa (pine processionary moth) are easily identifiable because the wintering nests of these insects are very showy and characterized by a typical pyriform appearance. Usually the nests are clearly visible on the plants because they are located in the upper part of the foliage.In the case of the oak processionary moth, however, the initial attacks are difficult to identify because the larvae gather in colonies grouped on the thinnest branches of the tree, forming of the sleeves. When the summer period begins, however, parasitic attacks are clearly visible:

Processionary: How the processionaries of pines and oaks are fought

There are several ways to fight the processionaries: first of all you can use specific insecticides to be used directly on the larvae but you have to be very careful in removing the dead ones because their hairs are highly stinging.Another method is the mechanical fight which consists in the manual removal of the processionary nests: this intervention is carried out in winter because the larvae are still present in the nest, but it is not recommended if the area to be treated is very large.In this case it is preferable to resort to biological control through two methods. use of a biological insecticide called “Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki” which is propagated by helicopter or through the use of atomizers. The second, on the other hand, is less expensive and is based onuse of pheromone or mechanical traps.

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