The processionary moth is a lepidopteron of the family of thaumetopoeidae, it is widespread all over the Southern Europe, it is a insect very dangerous at the larval stadium whether for the plants or the animals and also for the human being.

For the plants: the larvae of processionary moth infests above all the pines and the oak trees with the ephemeral leaf, plants more exposed to the sun and, occasionally, the processionary moths can infest larynxes, citron trees, nut trees, chestnut trees, birches and hornbeams. They belong to the category of defoliant insects namely; they feed of only the green parts of the plants restoring them so weak and sensitive to the attack in storage of other parasites.

For the human being and the animals: the larvae of processionary moth thank to urticant hairs, that squares up, they can induces at the contact ocular and skin irritations as well as erythema at the respiratory tract and the mucosa and asthma strokes due to urticant hairs of the larva carried by the wind. The larvae are very dangerous also for the animals and particularly for the dogs, that, seems to be attracted by a particularly smell that give off the larva of processionary moth. They can provoke serious problems to the mucosa when the animal go to sniff the larva that is on the ground or still more dangerous when the animal bolt it down, in this case can even cause its dead.

LIFE HISTORY

The mature processionary moth is a moth that has got a life very short, one or two days.

As a rule with the month of July the processionary moth reaches the wisdom and pokes out of the ground: the females, just a little bigger than the male, first they climb up on the trees where the impregnation happens.

The female of the processionary moth, lay its eggs on the pines around a pair of needles or other trees, the hatching of the eggs happens around the end of the summer, after a brooding of 30-40 days, and the newborn larvae starts to defoliate the trees, moving itself on the plant they build temporary nests; they have got a buccal apparatus formed by two powerful lower jaws, they have got three pairs of thoracic paws with which they move and some abdominal pseudo paws endowed by particular hooks with which they can anchor to the substratum. During the larval growth they go by various larval stages by three moulting, but only the third is constituted by urticant hairs.

With the arriving of the winter they start to build the sericeous nests easily recognizable by their appearance equivalent to big filamentous cocoons. The larvae of processionary moth will remain in these nests under cover the cold to the spring. The maggots of processionary moth with the arriving of the winter start to build sericeous nests easily recognizable from their appearance similar to big filamentous cocoons. The larvae of the processionary moth will remain in these nests under cover from the cold to the spring, when they go out from the nest and leave the plant moving to the ground, in groups, and march in procession from which their name. Reaching the ground they walk down to a depth of 5-20 cm where they grown up to pupa, and this a stage where the insect do not feed and cover itself with a silken protection.

After a period of breather that various and that can endure also some years, and happens the development into a nymph to the leakage of the butterfly with wings of various dimensions and colours.

PEST CONTROL AND FIGHTING TO THE PROCESSIONARY MOTH

In the natural areas where they grow up the processionary moth, it is the nature that supplies protections between which bacteria, virus, parasitoids and predators.

Into artificial parks and gardens where passes by animals and persons, the processionary moth can cause a lot of problems to the health, so in these areas is necessary the intervention of control and pest control. The intervents for the fighting against the processionary are based above all with the employment of insecticides based on Bacillus Thurigiensis that has given good results to the fighting of these lepidopteron, but its employment is successful if used in the previous period the construction of wintry nests.

These operations may be effected by qualified personnel.

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