May 11, 2010

FRENCH CREEPY CRAWLIES

When we were about half way through our week in Le Grand-Pressigny at Easter, Nick came back with Lulu from their morning walk with a very strange tale to report. Something about a seven-metre long trail of caterpillars. Intrigued, we both picked up our cameras and set off back up the hill to the château.





Sure enough, there they were, several incredibly long lines of large and very hairy caterpillars, moving very slowly, all joined nose to tail. How wierd.



Every so often, there would be a little pile of them.





On further investigation the trail seemed to be coming out of, or going into, the little wood behind the château. Then we looked upwards and saw something that looked like a nest in a pine tree.





We guessed that this must be the source of the trail as caterpillars seemed to be dripping out of it. In fact there were quite a few nests in the trees.






We mentioned this to Barrie who told us they were called "processional caterpillars" and they were poisonous so we mustn't touch them.




This probably explained why Lulu was quite off colour for the rest of the day. She was sick after her breakfast and yelped as if she was hurt somewhere, presumably caused by a reaction to having sniffed a caterpillar. Nick said he was sure she hadn't eaten one and there was no sign of an allergic reaction around her mouth or nose. But she was off her food all day and wouldn't even take her favourite treats.

Susan of Days on the Claise confirmed Barrie's warning and has recently mentioned them in her post here and included a link to more information here, if you would like to read more about it. Now that we know about the perils of processional caterpillars, we will be sure to keep away from them next year.

I am adding Ken's link here, and if you really like having nightmares read the section marked "dangers" !

11 comments:

  1. _hale@yahoo.comgailTuesday, May 11, 2010

    We saw these too Jean at Easter but when walking elsewhere. They did look absolutely incredible, thankfully though we did not have Skye with us that day.
    Gail

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  2. Gail - I'm glad we know about them now, but I wonder how many people get caught out and become ill each year, or maybe the effect of them is well known locally. There was a family with a little boy heading their way as we came home. I hope his parents knew not to let him touch them.

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  3. Thanks for the warning. The creepie crawlies seem to be coming out everywhere it seems, especially the spiders! DiaNE

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  4. They look and sound pretty nasty! Hope Lulu is back to normal and fine now!

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  5. Thanks Jean,I'll have nightmares now!

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  6. Heavens above! I took a photograph last week of one very fluffy one in the Beacons which is on the blog, but I've never seen anything like that. Weird and slightly yuck.
    Poor Lulu.

    Mad x

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  7. Diane, Pam, Ken and Mad - I don't normally mind caterpillars too much but these did look rather nasty.
    Lulu was back to normal the next day.

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  8. I think local people do know about the chenilles processionnaires and how dangerous they are. We've seen some around Saint-Aignan too. There are several varieties of them. We have similar caterpillars in the southern U.S. that we call "tent caterpillars" because of those nests.

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  9. Ken - thanks for the link. It's quite terrifying ! I will certainly treat them with great respect if we encounter them again.

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  10. If they infest your trees and build nests, they could kill the trees. We knock them out of the trees if we can reach them.
    They are a real "fleau".

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