Dog walkers need to be especially vigilant as the deadly Pine Processionary Caterpillar (Thaumetopoea Pityocampa) starts to appear now the weather is getting warmer.
While the first signs of spring are welcome to most people the threat of these toxic creatures has pet owners on alert.
“They pose a major risk to children and adults causing dermatitis, eye damage and severe allergic reaction and in pets, even death,” according to Milagros Fernandez de Lezeta, director of Spain’s Pest Control Association (ANECPLA).
As the weather starts to warm up the caterpillars drop from the trees in search of food and have already been spotted in Alicante and other parts of Spain.
Measuring between three and four centimetres in length they move across the ground in a snake-like procession.
The caterpillars have barb-like hairs that contain a protein called thaumetopoein that can cause breathing difficulties that can lead to death in dogs.
Dogs inadvertently get the barbs of the caterpillar stuck in their paws and then when they try to remove them by licking spread the poison to their mouths.
When out walking with your dog be vigilant and avoid areas where pine trees grow.
If you feel that your pet may have come into contact with one of these caterpillars take them to the vet immediately so that they can be given cortisone and antibiotic injections.