Processionary - The Pine Tree Caterpillar

Thaumetopoea pityocampa Schiff. Lepidopetra, Thaumetopoeidae

General Aspects

The pine caterpillar, commonly called Processionary – with the scientific name Thaumetopoea pityocampa – is a defoliating insect of pines and cedars. As such, it leads to a weakening of the tree and depending on the degree of attack it can cause death.

The pine caterpillar, commonly called Processionary – with the scientific name Thaumetopoea pityocampa – is a defoliating insect of pines and cedars. As such, it leads to a weakening of the tree and depending on the degree of attack it can cause death.

The attacks vary in intensity according to the population levels of the caterpillars, which are strongly influenced by climatic conditions.

The Processionary Life Cycle

The processionary’s life cycle is usually completed in one year, distinguishing two phases: one aerial in the canopy of the pines and another underground, in the soil.

Like all insects, the development of the caterpillar goes through different stages.

Processionary caterpillars pass through five stages, and it is from the 3rd stage that they become dangerous to public health.
Caterpillars in the 1st and 2nd growth stages It usually occurs in the autumn period (mid-September / late October).

Young caterpillars live in temporary nests, which are abandoned until the formation of a definitive nest (winter nest), where they live there as a colony and protect themselves from low temperatures.