PROCESSIONARY MOTH TRAUMATOCAMPA AND PITYOCAMPA

The Processionary Moth is a lepidopteron insect that belongs to the family of taumatopeids. It is a dangerous parasite mainly for the pines (Pinus Nigra and Pinus Silvestris) and the oak trees with caduceus leaves (Quercus Robur and Quercus Peduncolata) and it can also, now and then, strikes the larynxes, the citron trees, the nut trees, the chestnut trees, the beech trees, the hornbeams and the birches.

The fully-grown one is a butterfly with large wings of about 3-4 centimetres, it is grey coloured with brown stripes. The female is, as a rule, les bigger than the male. Their life is very short, usually it does not last more than one or two days.

The insect, when it has reaches the phase of maturity, emerges from the ground, usually during the month of July. The females are the first that climb up on the long-stemmed plants, where subsequently they are impregnated by the male. At this point, the lepidopteron flies in search for the most suitable plant for the laying of the eggs.

In regard to the Processionary moth of the pine, the eggs are laid around a couple of needles. After an incubation period of 30/40 days (towards the middle or the end of August), come into the world the larvae. The neonates skeletonise the needles and then they move along the plant, forming, on each occasion, some temporary nests.

In October they build a silky nest where they will spend all the winter season. Into the spring season they start again the activity and, towards the end of March, they get down to the ground. They get filled with soil at a depth of 5/20 centimetres, where they spin a shell. After a more or les period of diapauses, the development into a nymph comes to an end and the course starts again.

The Processionary moth of the oak tree appears in the month of July. The impregnation happens almost immediately. The eggs are laid in plates disposed as al emplacement on the smooth surface of the small branches. The eggs overrun the winter season for hatching afterwards at the moment of the opening of the gemmae, between the end of April and the beginning of May. When they born, the larvae move on the branches and, when they arrive near the fork of the branches or the trunk, they create a nest. In the first days of July the larvae grow to the state of pupa inside the nest.

DISPLACEMENT OF THE NESTS OF THE PROCESSIONARY MOTHS

THE EUROPEAN GROUND-BEETLE

COMMON NAME: European ground-beetle

TECHNICAL LATIN NAME: Calosona sycophantha

FAMILY: Scarabeids

ORDER: Beetles

CHARACTERISTICS: Also known as “hunter of the maggots”, this beetle with dazzling colours is one of ruthless murderer of wild world. We must observe at its claws that send some blazes of steel on the forehead: they are the most terrible of the family of coleopterans! In just one moment they tear to pieces any insect.

NOURISHMENT/PREFERRED FEEDS – butterflies, crickets, maggots (particularly the “Processionary moths”). In just one summer one beetle devours on the average 450 “Processionary moths”. These wreckers of trees create some real living chains along the branches. One after another they finish in the jaws of the European ground-beetle in wait, with an insatiable appetite.

CHARACTERISTICS: The European ground-beetle eats only the soft interiors of the maggots discarding only the empty skin; this happens also for the crickets and other big insects that are quickly “drained” by the sharp claws and the very voracious mouth of the predator.

SOCIAL INTERACTION: Often these beetles assail in pairs the “Processionary moths” fixed to take a walk in a single file at the research of tasty leaves. No one of these will shelter!

LIFE HABITS: From the mountains the European ground-beetles have been carried in the garden and in the parks of the city for protecting the foliage of the oaks and the pines from the maggots and the damaging butterflies. The female European ground-beetle usually lays the eggs close to a root.

PROCREATION: The female beetle lays the eggs in the little hollows formed near one root. Beneath, in a cell, the egg hatches and come out one maggot that will become afterwards pupa, and, in a little, it will looks like a fully-grown European ground-beetle.