Humans and pets in Cyprus are in serious risk from an increased processionary pine caterpillar presence in recent years, Philenews reported on Friday.
Because the white hairs that cover the body of this commonly-found insect in Cyprus contain a toxic substance that can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in both humans and animals.
The warmer, drier weather over recent years may have a role to play in the earlier sightings of active caterpillars which can even eject these toxic hairs at animals that are nearby.
If a pet comes into contact with a processionary caterpillar or inhales the toxic hairs it may experience various symptoms including drooling, swelling of the mouth. As well as redness, itching, and swelling of the skin which is painful to touch.
The toxic hairs can cause difficulty in breathing, coughing or sneezing in humans as well.
According to veterinarians in Cyprus, the symptom rate in dogs is showing a 50% increase compared to last year. And both children and adults have developed allergies in several – mainly mountainous – areas of the Mediterranean island.
Deputy head of the Forestry Department, Andreas Christou, said this caterpillar causes serious problems in forests since they eat the needles of pine trees, affecting their appearance.