Pine processionary moth
Pine processionary moth Thaumetopoae pityocampa is native to The Mediterranean, some areas in the Middle East, Southern Europe and Nort America, although not established in the UK the moth is now just across the Channel in France. The moth itself is not a very strong flier but could easily be transported across. A population of caterpillars were found at a UK nursery 1995 in a consignment of Scots pines from Italy, luckily these did not establish themselves.
The caterpillars feed on the needles of pine trees, large numbers will easily defoliate trees, this makes them more susceptable to other pests and diseases.
As with oak procesionary moth, the caterpillars move in a procession and present health implications to the public. Thousands of tiny hairs contain the protein thaumetopein, this can cause painful skin rashes and some people may have an allergic reaction.
The caterpillar of the Pine processionary moth (PPM)
Nests can be seen in January, these are tent like, white, silken webbing.
The caterpillar, which is orange/brown with grey bands, can been seen in winter and early spring. These are more likely to be in a single lined procession.
The adult moths can be seen between May and July and individually only live for a day, theses have cream forewings with brown markings and white hindwings.
In order to import Pines you must have a plant passport, all imports must be notified to the UK plant health authorities so inspections can be carried out.
Although not established in the UK if you do think you may have spotted Pine processionary moth then please notify your local fera office. Do not touch the caterpillars or attempt to remove nests yourselves.
For more information on Pine processionary moth please visit Forestry.gov