Alarmists are charging that climate change is the culprit behind a “toxic caterpillar plague” affecting southern Spain, insisting that global warming has ushered in an early spring.
“The appearance of the pine processionary caterpillar has been anticipated this year due to a lack of rain and an increase in temperatures, the result of climate change,” stated Spain’s National Association of Environmental Health Companies (ANECPLA).
The Spanish newspaper ABC reported Friday that the advanced arrival of this dangerous caterpillar is “a direct consequence of climate change.”
Pine trees in parks, gardens, and woodlands in some areas of Andalusia, Ceuta, and Levante already have large nests of the highly toxic caterpillars in their branches, ANECPLA said.
The 2020 appearance of the caterpillars — which are dangerous for humans and often deadly for domestic animals — has arrived a month earlier than usual, the organization noted.
The caterpillars “pose a major risk to children and adults causing dermatitis, eye damage and severe allergic reaction and in pets even death,” said ANECPLA director Milagros Fernandez de Lezeta.
The pine processionary caterpillar — so-named for its distinctive habit of processing through the woods in nose-to-tail columns — lays its eggs in cotton candy-like nests in pine trees and the eggs hatch as temperatures rise with the onset of spring.
The caterpillars are covered with tiny barbed hairs that contain a venomous protein called thaumetopoein, which can cause breathing difficulties and vomiting. Direct contact with the caterpillars is not even necessary because when they sense a threat they can launch their hairs (trichomes) into the air, which act as poisoned darts that provoke irritations and allergies.
Especially vulnerable are dogs, which can try to eat the caterpillars and get the barbed hairs stuck in their paws, nose, or tongue.