The pine processional moth (PPM) caterpillar has been spotted within Barcelona Centre.
Information from the UK Government Forestry website explains: “PPM 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, severe allergic reactions in some people and animals.
The caterpillars have been sighted on Avinguda Diagonal near Francesc Macià and in Vila Olímpica.
The caterpillar lives in spun, tent like nests in pine trees feeding on the needles, and the larvae will form a procession moving from A to B, in a single file, nose to tail column that is characteristic of this species. In this way they search for the perfect spot in the ground in which to dig and bury themselves to pupate into the moth a few months later. These caterpillars have a natural defense system of irritating hairs (urticating hairs) which they eject when threatened or stressed.
Normally around the end of March the caterpillars pupate but maybe due to this years uncharacteristically warm winter that the caterpillar has been active earlier than usual and in larger numbers.
They are extremely dangerous to dogs or any animal that comes into contact with them. My vet advised that if you think your dog has been in contact with a caterpillar, it is best to wash the infected area with soap and water and take it immediately to your vet. It is also important to prevent the dog from licking this area.
If out walking in a park, keep an eye out for the caterpillars and the characteristic nests spun in between the branches of pine trees.
Possible symptoms that your dog may have been in contact with a caterpillar:
limping, tail between the legs, foaming at the mouth, irritation, pain and sensitivity, constant licking, swelling.