Back To The Garden

A friend told me that Provence has 25% less water than last year at this time and that they are expecting a drought this summer. Nevertheless, it rained all day yesterday, one of those really nice soft rains and everything looks refreshed and green today. I bought some flowers to plant but the lady who sold them to us told me that it was too early to plant them. I probably should have waited until the middle of May once the days of the Saints of Ice are past-May 11, 12 and 13, but we had such nice sun filled days that I planted them anyway and will now probably be out several nights covering pots with plastic. I have one planting area that I made a couple of years ago that I am just going to cover with gravel. The first time I dug in it, it was full of roots from a nearby huge oak tree. I now know that this is a good sign that plants won’t do well there. I had to water the flowers there every single day and they mainly just sort of sat there, not dying, but very little growth and few flowers. I have three lavender plants there that are still green just sort of blah looking. Always something in the world of gardening.

A friend sent me a link to what turns out to be the caterpillar species that caused me so many problems. Even weeks later I have little itchy bumps on my neck and hands. They are called Pine Processionary Caterpillars. I’ve never seen them myself as I believe they do their little congo line in the winter. Believe me, I will give them and their nests wide berth from now on.

Here are the little buggers traveling in their amazing congo line.

The web/nest that they make. Burn these on site in the tree.

Sideroads of Europe

5 thoughts to “Back To The Garden”

  1. After what they did to you, it gave me the willies just looking at the picture of the and their nest, And to think you still have bumps!

  2. There have been several announcements and online discussions here in Brittany to do with the chenilles processionaires [caterpillars]. We are told that in some circumstances they can be deadly or nearly so, particularly for small children, the elderly or infirm, and pets. A dog in the area was bitten on the tongue, and everyone was relieved that he survived — but he has only half a tongue left, the other half having fallen off. It reminds me of the problems in Arizona with recluse spiders whose bite could have a degenerating effect on muscle tissue if they got you in the right place with enough poison.

    We don’t appear to be so much in the direct line of fire for CPs, as forested areas are more vulnerable. And we’ve only heard of one notable incident here which was rapidly handled by the farmers. The creatures were sighted one night in the lights of a tractor. They were crawling toward a large pine forest, and several families went walking in their wellies and stomped them to death on the lane.

    The Processionares apparently gravitate to pine and oak and can be discouraged from your garden trees if you paint the trunks with a thick mix of lime and water in the late Fall before the frosts. So that when they start processing they don’t want to climb in your garden anyway. Another alternative if you’ve got a tent of them already established is to paint the trunk with arborist’s glue, which doesn’t let them come to ground. But that only sounds like half an answer to me.

    Mainly, it was recommended that anybody who comes across them should contact professionals because they need to be sprayed in just the right conditions. In Southern Brittany the regional and local authorities apparently sprayed the forests with a sulfurous treatment from airplanes and people there have noted all of the brown, shriveled nests.

    We have two very grubby pine trees which we intend to make into firewood this Summer. But the oak tree that looks so lovely decorated in Christmas lights will stay and we’ll hope the CPs aren’t interested.

  3. We had similar “nests” in Missouri. I can’t remember what were inside, probably some sort of caterpillar too, but I remember when we were moving there and I started seeing these webbed nests in so many trees and they were HUGE. I asked my dh, what the heck kind of spider makes a web like that and what’s it trying to catch with that huge web,lol…I was terrified of them till I found out what they were!

    Hope your flowers grow great! What kinds did you get?

  4. I live in spain and these little b—–s are fatal to cats and dogs and very painful to humans. If you tread on them, their fur? flies and can be inhaled causing nasty breathing problems. The only way to get rid of them if you see a nest, is to put a plastic bag over the nest, break off the branch and then set fire to it in a safe place.

    What I would like to know, do these caterpillars turn into anything, like a moth maybe, not a butterfly I think, they are far too nasty to turn into one of those!!!

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