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How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: March 24, 2022
How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars

Is your garden or farm plagued by processionary caterpillars and you don't know how to get rid of them? The truth is that with the arrival of warm weather, it is very common for these insects to breed in pine trees and you may even see them come down from these trees and marching in procession - hence their name - on the ground. You should be very careful because the pine processionary causes skin hives and can lead to serious problems for dogs, so in this OneHowTo article we explain how to exterminate pine processionary caterpillars.

You may also be interested in: How to Get Rid of Fleas in your House

Steps to follow:


The processionary caterpillar or pine processionary (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) is an insect that normally lives in pine trees - although it can also be found on fir trees and cedars - and it can turn into an infestation. Besides the problems it causes to the trees, this lepidoptera species causes skin hives and allergic reactions in humans, as well as being a serious menace to dogs.

How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars - Step 1

Generally, processionary caterpillars come down from pine trees when the weather starts to get warmer and spring approaches, i.e. between February and April. That's when we see them parading one after another as if they were in a procession, which precisely where they get their name from.

The little hairs - called trichomes - that cover the pine processionary result in stinging hives, not only by directly touching them but also when the wind blows these little hairs onto you. Similarly, they are especially dangerous for children and animals who tend to be curious and are more likely to touch the caterpillars that have come down from the trees.

How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars - Step 2

Therefore, it is important to take steps to exterminate processionary caterpillars and their nests, which they build in pine trees, and take action to prevent them multiplying. It is important to be extremely careful when trying to eliminate these pests to prevent their stinging effects.

One of the traditional methods to get rid of caterpillars of the pines is doing it mechanically, i.e, cut down their nests and burn them to prevent these insects from spreading. It is best to remove their nests in the afternoon so that the caterpillars can't rebuild them during the day and then at night they will die because they have no protection against the cold. It is also possible to shoot their nests with special ammunition that will burn their nests.

How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars - Step 3

Another way to kill off processionary caterpillars is by using pheromone traps that will attract these animals and stop them from reaching the ground. This way, they will be trapped in this pest control system and then we can eliminate them more easily.

Also, as a home remedy, it is also possible to put up some kind of physical barrier such as putting plastic cones or rings around the base of the pine trees to stop the pine processionary from spreading.

How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars - Step 4
Image: blog.ferrovial.com

If you want to exterminate the pine processionary by using phytosanitary treatments, the best thing to do is to hire a pest control company who knows what chemicals you can use to kill pine processionary caterpillars. Similarly, it is essential to use pesticides that won't harm the trees and above all, that won't endanger any other people, animals or the environment.

For more on pest control, find out how to get rid of pests on plants naturally and how to get rid of cockroaches.

How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars - Step 5

If you want to read similar articles to How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars, we recommend you visit our Maintenance and home security category.

Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
Lucy Adair
Is it possible to divert their path when on the ground?? we have a few nests in our area and have spotted lines on the road, is there something we can be along the boundary to prevent them entering the garden, to attempt to keep our dogs safe during this period of their cycle. something similar to salt/copper with slugs
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Lucy,

You can try to create a barrier, but this will be almost impossible if you have a large property as they can quite easily find a way around them.
We just found these in our pine tree and fruit trees in France. We didn't have any special equipment and wanted to act quickly. I put on some gloves and we cut the branches where the caterpillars were congregating whilst holding a big plastic box underneath to catch them. Then I sprinkled them with Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth and put the lid on the plastic box. They don't look very lively and I don't think they will last long. We are going to do more to attract birds into our garden as I don't feel comfortable killing things but at least if the birds get a meal it's a better solution. I just thought I would share this as Food Grade DE is environmentally friendly and very effective. Thanks for the tips. We will consider all of it.
Hamish MacColl
"ask someone else to do it" isn't really an intelligent answer to the question "How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars"
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Hamish,
Have you read the whole article or did you just read the final paragraph? You'll find tips on how to do it in the steps above, though a final recommendation is to hire a professional due to the fact that the methods are difficult and some people may not feel they have the necessary skills to try them without being harmed.
Hope this helps
Image: blog.ferrovial.com
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How to Exterminate Pine Processionary Caterpillars