It’s animal life again that rules my life, not because the fibre cables have been chewed through, see Ups and Downs (and Ins and Outs) of (Animal) Life in Spain for that story. This time it is small, hairy caterpillars. After the crazy hot January, the warmest since records began, February came in thinking it was spring. Flowers are out and we have a plague of processionary caterpillars eating everything. According to Google these usually hatch in May/June!

We have more than I have ever seen before, in the garden on my broad beans – everywhere. They might be small but in these numbers they do enormous damage to plant life and are dangerous to young children and dogs.

Caterpillars on Nettles

Caterpillars on Nettles

The nests are usually found in pine trees and when the weather is warm they hatch and drop to the ground in search of food.

Measuring three to four centimetres each one is covered with barbed hairs which contain an irritant known as thaumetopoein.

If dogs come into contact with the caterpillars they can pick up the hairs on their paws, which if licked can cause the poison spreads to the mouth.

This can make them suffer breathing difficulties, vomit or foam at the mouth and they should be taken urgently to the nearest veterinary clinic for an immediate cortisone and antibiotic infection.

Sometimes the only remedy is to ampute the tongue or nose. If these hairs reach the animals throat they can cause suffocation and result in death.

 

Caterpillars on Broad Beans

Caterpillars on Broad Beans

This happened to one of my daughter-in-laws dogs and the poor thing only has half a tongue now. The weather forecast has had a sudden turn around and it has become winter overnight so I for one with a dog and a cat am hoping for freezing temperatures overnight to kill off this crazy caterpillar plague.

On a brighter note spring was here and the garden are colourful and bright but – if we do have low temperatures again it the will kill the flowers too!

 

Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

So March has begun with a virus and plague, winter has returned and hubby is happy and hoping for snow! I am pretty sure that he will not be lucky.

Roll on the real spring but we still need winter rains for a good olive harvest next year. My broad bean crop looks blighted but now I’m off to remove every caterpillar as I must have my fill of Habas con Jamon – tiny broad beans with bits of jamon and garlic, one of the best Spanish dishes ever. But those broad beans must be small and very fresh. Another few weeks and hopefully that’s what I’ll be tucking into!

 

B-C-I-ING-U in two weeks….