Pine processionary caterpillars - 5th March 2020

 

 

Pine processionary caterpillars -  click on the image to enlarge
Pine processionary caterpillars

A nest of Pine processionary caterpillars in the forest near Agios Ioannis, Sfakia. They are very prevalent in the pine forest around Anopolis and whilst they do damage trees most of them seem to recover.

The species is notable for the behaviour of its caterpillars which overwinter in tent-like nests high in pine trees. Colonies are active throughout the winter months. The caterpillars leave their nests soon after sunset and travel to distant feeding sites on the branches of the host tree. There, they feed overnight then return to the nest at dawn. The nests are positioned so that they can be warmed by the sun. The caterpillars rest during the day and the heat in the nest helps them to digest their food. When they emerge from their nests in late March, they are fully grown and leave their nest processing towards pupation sites in the ground.

Click on the picture to enlarge

 

 

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