Thaumetopoea pityocampa

Biocontrol of the Pine processionary

Common name: Pine processionary moth
Scientific name: Thaumetopoea pityocampa
Orders: Lepidoptera
Affects: Pine forests
Main season: All year round

Thaumetopoea pityocampa

General Information

The Pine processionary moth is a defoliating insect that feeds on all species of pine trees and cedars. This species is distributed throughout the Mediterranean, and is present all over the Iberian Peninsula. Their distribution is limited due to climate, therefore areas with winter temperatures below -12 o C prevent their development.

Pines

It has been demonstrated that when their feeding activity is very intense, it can diminish the growth of some species of pine trees. This is more serious in young pine trees with a lower height or smaller size than in older trees.

In addition, the forests defoliated by the Pine processionary moth present a distressing aspect and can become impassable and impede or complicate forestry work because of the urticaria produced by the caterpillars.


Morphology y biology

When the Pine processionary is in the moth stage, the wingspan in females can reach between 36-49 mm. The forewings are an ash-grey colour with darker veins, margins and three transverse bands. The hindwings are white with grey fringes and a characteristic grey-brown spot in the anal region. They have greyish hairs covering the thorax. The abdomen is cylindrical, stout and its last segments are covered with a tuft of golden scales.

The adult males have a wingspan between 31-39 mm and have lots of hairs on the thorax. The abdomen is also very hairy, conical and slightly thinner than the females.

The hindwings are the same as the females, whereas the forewings are a grey colour varying in intensity and in this case, the three transverse bands are much darker and more visible than the females.

Depending on the weather between June and September, the Pine processionary moth lays its eggs on the pine needles. The number of eggs laid varies between 120 and 300. They are protected by the scales of the abdomen, making it look like a cigar covering the needles.

Adult male processionary

Adult male

Adult female processionary

Adult female

The caterpillars take 30 to 40 days to be born and immediately after hatching they start to feed on the pine needles near to where they emerged from, establishing a permanent contact with their siblings, which is something that will endure throughout their larval life. The caterpillars go through 5 larval stages, with social and gregarious behaviour. With each moult the larva increases in size, increasing also the size and density of the nests. A recently hatched caterpillar measures around 2.5 mm, growing up to 3 or 4 cm before pupating. The caterpillars develop urticarial hairs as a defence mechanism from stage 3, which happens around the beginning of Winter.

processionary caterpillar

The temperature greatly influences the biological cycle of this insect. When the temperature on the inside of the nest is between 20 and 25 o C the caterpillars develop normally. With temperatures higher than 30o C, the egg laying should happen approximately one month before the temperatures begin to drop below 30o C. In cold areas the egg laying is brought forward compared to the warmer areas.

They also have a lethal inferior threshold; with temperatures lower than 10o C eon the inside of the nest the colony activity stops, so that when the nights are very cold, the caterpillars come out to feed during the day. Below -12o C entire colonies can die. Between 10 and 20o C, the caterpillars carry on feeding and sewing their nests, but do not progress in their development.

Processionary bags


Symtoms and damages

The Pine processionary moth produces two types of damage: the first, affecting trees and causing the loss of pine needles. This is because the caterpillars feed on the pine and cedar needles in Winter.

The most significant damage they cause is at the end of Winter to the middle of Spring, when the caterpillars are bigger and more voracious.

The larvae from the 3rd to the 5th stage are highly allergenic. They can even produce severe allergic reactions in people and animals.

 nest Thaumetopoea pityocampa

Thaumetopoea pityocampa nests

BIOCONTROL OF MOTH

Necessary material

We need an ECONEX G TRAP and a pheromone diffuser ECONEX THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA 60 DAYS or ECONEX THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA 200 DAYS, certified diffusers for use in ecological agriculture with a field duration of 60 and 200 days respectively.

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Pheromone diffuser  ECONEX THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA 60 DAYS

Pheromone diffuser ECONEX THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA 60 DAYS and packaging of the product.
(Code: VA153)

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Pheromone diffuser ECONEX THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA 200 DAYS

Pheromone diffuser ECONEX THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA 200 DAYS and packaging of the product.
(Code: VA331)

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The ECONEX G TRAP has a large capacity and is used for the capture of male Pine processionary moths (Thaumetopoea pityocampa).

The body of the trap is a dark brown and opaque plastic box, which is slightly rough on the outside and smooth inside. The entrance funnels are extended with flaps, that limit the area inside the body of the trap to a very small size. The male, attracted by the pheromone diffuser, enters the trap and falls into the bag from where he cannot escape.

The lower part of the bag is dark brown, to prevent the birds from seeing the captured insects and breaking into it to feed on them.

ECONEX G TRAP

ECONEX G TRAP
(Code: TA028)

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On the inside of the trap the pheromone diffuser is hung from the stopper cap using a paper clip, which is located in the upper part of the trap.

placement of the processionary pheromone diffuser 60 days

placement of the processionary pheromone diffuser 200 days

The ECONEX G TRAP consists of a body with 2 hangers, a special bag, a plastic clamp for attaching the bag and a stopper to hang the pheromone diffuser.

BODY ECONEX G TRAP

BODY
(Code: TA150)

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BAG ECONEX G TRAP

BAG
(Código: TA031)

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HANGERS ECONEX G TRAP (2 Ud.)

HANGERS
(Code: TA162)

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STOPPER ECONEX G TRAP

STOPPER
(Code: TA034)

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CLAMP ECONEX G TRAP

CLAMP
(Code: TA032)

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Detection and monitoring

A minimum of 1 ECONEX G TRAP should be placed per plot and up to 1 trap per 9 hectares. The traps should be hung from the pine trees or on a support for this purpose.

For extensive monitoring, the number of traps per surface is increased according to the location and uniformity of the plots. A maximum density of 3 traps per hectare is to be used.


Period of use

DIn general, the flight of the adult Pine processionary moth takes place between the months of June and September.

In Spring, observation traps should be placed using 1 or 2 traps per plot to detect the pest and observe its population levels.

Through tolerance thresholds established in each area, the moment to adopt control measures is later defined.


Factors that influence the number of traps needed

The pest population, the connection to other pine trees, the level of control needed, etc. An important factor is the size of the pine forest. A greater number of traps is needed in smaller and irregular forests than on plots with a larger and more uniform surface area.

In cases like this, the borders around the plots have to be reinforced. It may be necessary to place up to 3 traps per hectare for extensive monitoring purposes.

technicians placing the G Trap

G trap placed on the pine tree


Storing the diffusers

The diffusers should be stored in their original packaging, in the refrigerator at 4o C; or in the freezer at -18o C, In this case, they will last up to 2 and 4 years respectively.


BIOCONTROL OF THE CATERPILLAR

TRAP TO CAPTURE THE PINE PROCESSIONARY CATERPILLARS

Bolson pine processionary caterpillars

PROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX® L

TO INSTALL IN PINE TREES WITH PINE PROCESSIONARY NESTS

ADVANTAGES

  • Ecological trap
  • Does not include pesticides
  • Suitable for biocontrol
  • Large capacity trap
  • Easy placement and handling
  • Adaptable to all types of pine trees

PROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX®L placed in pine

PROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX® L
(Code: TA241)

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The processionary caterpillars produce two types of damage. Firstly, the caterpillars affect the trees and cause the loss of needles, because they feed on the pine and cedar needles from the end of Winter to the middle of Spring.

Secondly, the caterpillars are highly allergenic, capable of producing severe allergic reactions in people and animals, as well as in forest areas, parks and gardens.

The PROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX® L trap is designed to capture caterpillars of the Pine processionary Thaumetopoea pityocampa, where they have made nests. The aggregative and social behaviour of this species is used to capture the entire group of caterpillars when they travel to the ground to bury and pupate.

The trap consists of a black PET sheet measuring 150 x 25 cm and 0.3 mm thick, and a rectangular polyurethane foam bar measuring 5 x 7 cm x 150 cm long, with a corrugated tube through its middle part which connects to a polyethylene bag with an opaque lower half.

The black sheet is covered on the inside with a film of contact glue (without solvents) to facilitate assembly and to deter the processionary caterpillars from climbing up the sheet. This way, they are forced to descend through the tube towards the bag, where they are retained.

Activation of the trap


Identify the trees with active nests of processionary caterpillars, making sure they have not yet descended. Carefully read the instructions that are included with the trap.

Remove the protective paper from the sheet. Stick the foam bar on the bottom of the sheet, taking care that the bag stays approximately in the centre. Position the foam bar and bag around the tree and mark the excess foam on the overlapping part. Only cut the excess foam, DO NOT CUT THE SHEET.

Install the trap around the trunk, so that the foam bar completely surrounds the perimeter of the tree, with no gaps, sticking the sheet to the overlapping part. The bag should be more or less centred. Secure the overlapping part with staples both on the top and the bottom. Check that the foam fits to the trunk by looking from below. If there are any noticeable gaps, fill them with the remaining foam.

The trap is suitable for pine trees with a trunk perimeter that is less than 130 cm. For trees with a perimeter greater than 110 cm, use two or more sheets and foam bars. The sheets should overlap by at least 15 cm and the overlap must be secured with staples.

traps mounting scheme PROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX®L

Safety tips: Handle the trap with protective gloves. In case of handling without protective gloves, wash hands after use. If the caterpillars are inside the trap, handle with extreme care: WEAR A PROTECTIVE FACE MASK. AVOID CONTACT WITH SKIN.


BIOCONTROL OF THE PINE PROCESSIONARY WITH BATS

bats nest

ECONEX BAT BOXES

The biological cycle of bats overlaps perfectly with that of the Pine processionary moth. The adult moths start to fly and reproduce between June and September, a period in which most species of Chiroptera have finished rearing their young.

EIt is at this time of year when there is a high predation of insects due to: a greater abundance of bats, when the young born at the beginning of Summer join the adult population; the elevated energy requirements of the females and the young, the former to recover from nursing their young and the latter to invest in their rapid growth that allows them to successfully survive the winter period.

The trophic resources consumed by bats depend on the type of habitat, the abundance of different insect species, the time of year, etc. Studies carried out about the eating habits of Nyctalus leisleri show that an important part of their diet is based on the consumption of lepidopterans (13-46%) (Sullivan et al. 1993; Waters et al. 1999). These results are important for our objective. Nyctalus leisleri is a forest species whose presence on the Mediterranean coast has been confirmed.

The activity of this species starts very early, when it is not yet dark, coinciding with the active hours of the Pine processionary moth ( Thaumetopoea pityocampa). The forest character, the type of trophic resources it consumes and the behaviour of Nyctalus leisleri increase the probability of capturing Pine processionary moths. In the case of Pipistrellus pipistrellus, the moths to not constitute a large proportion of their food supply, accounting for approximately 1% to 5% of their diet (Hoare 1991; Sullivan et al. 1993).

bats hunting

It should be noted that the trophic studies of Pipistrellus pipistrellus previously mentioned, have been carried out in Nordic regions where the number of Lepidopterans is scarce and with possible significant differences regarding the feeding behaviour of the Mediterranean populations. On the other hand, it should also be taken into consideration that Pipistrellus pipistrellus is an ubiquitous species and does not select its prey or their size. This means that they feed on the insects which in each period of the year are in abundance (Swift et al. 1985). This characteristic is very important, given that it plays a regulatory role with regards to the demography of insect populations.

Most of the species detected in Spain have a preference for hunting in forest areas, clearings and woodland edges. They also visit to a lesser extent, cultivated fields and urban areas, where they can be seen capturing their prey around the lights. Their hunting areas are usually not located very far from the roosting sites they use, except for the species Tadarida teniotis, which is capable of travelling very long distances and hunting at high altitudes (even at 300m from the ground).

Most species of Chiropterans can potentially occupy the bat boxes, even though some of them are not in forests. For example, the fissuricultural species and often anthropophilic Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Pipistrellus kuhlii; and the forest bats Hypsugo savii, Nyctalus leisleri and Nyctalus lasiopterus can settle in the bat boxes placed for them.

SOURCES:
Luis Núñez Vázquez del Servicio de Sanidad Forestal de las Islas Baleares.
Oscar de Paz y David Almenar – Sociedad Española para la Conservación y el Estudio de los Murciélagos (SECEMU). Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física. Universidad de Alcalá de Henares (Madrid)
Egoitz Salsamendi, Joxerra Aihartza, Urtzi Goiti y Inazio Garin del Departamento de Zoología y Dinámica Animal Celular, Universidad del País Vasco.


ECONEX BAT BOX (Code: TA117)

What is a bat box

Not all bats spend the day in caves. They tend to use the gaps in trees for shelter, as well as abandoned mines, buildings, bridges and many other places. In fact, the great variety of bats reflects the incredible diversity of species that exist. Bats are very opportunistic and have adapted to their environment in creative ways to take advantage of the multitude of shelters available to them. However, humans frequent the areas where bats live, altering or destroying their habitats.

Bat boxes make a really comfortable home for many species of bats. It is a way of providing much needed shelter for the only species of flying mammals, who are in decline all over the world.

bat nest in chimney


Why should i hang bat boxes

Bats are an important part of our ecosystem. European bats are essentially insectivores and, in areas where their population levels are of great significance, they provide a considerable decrease in pest populations.

For example, just one bat can capture up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour. However, human activities (both unseen and targeted) have led to a drastic decline in bat populations in recent years. The bat is a very misunderstood animal, even though it plays a key role in nature. If it disappears, there will be significant changes to the ecosystem.

ECONEX NIDEO FOR BATS

ECONEX BAT BOX
(Code: TA117)

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Monitoring bat boxes

The lack of suitable shelters for breeding in recent reforestations or young woods, significantly affects the quantity and distribution of Chiropteran forest species.

By installing the specific boxes for Chiropterans, it will allow for the reproduction of this species inside.

Monitoring the occupancy of the boxes will also help to evaluate the population levels of the forest bats.


Placing the bat boxes

The position of the boxes will depend very much on the area, latitude and the average temperature, etc. Generally, it is recommended to install the boxes in areas with 5 to 7 hours of sunlight.

nest for bats placed

Taking into consideration that the period of occupancy by bats inside the boxes (May – September) corresponds to the hottest time of year. It is not advisable to install the boxes facing South, unless the branches and leaves protect them from sun exposure. If that is the case, it is possible the shelters will reach temperatures that are not ideal for their colonisation.


BIOCONTROL OF THE PINE PROCESSIONARY WITH INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS

Biocontrol processionary insectivorous birds

ECONEX NESTING BOX FOR INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS

The benefits of insectivorous birds

It is possible to maintain the natural biological balance in forests through the use of all those biological resources that nature has to offer us.

The insectivorous birds whose role within the forest balance, as regulators of the pest phenomenon is well known. It has been one of the most studied entomophagous animal groups. Some of these birds, such as the Woodpeckers build nests with their powerful beaks. Tits, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Redstarts and Old World flycatchers, etc. are troglodytes. This means, that they use the natural gaps and thick branches in trees to make nests and protect themselves from bad weather or their predators.

birds with captured insects

The importance of these birds is clearly demonstrated by having studied the stomachs of Blue tits, in which large quantities of Tortrix viridiana or Catocala sp. caterpillars were found, amongst others. Also, Pine processionary caterpillars ( Thaumetopoea pityocampa) in their first stages are often found in the stomachs of insectivores studied from Autumn to Winter. It has been estimated that the amount of insects consumed by a pair of these birds in a year can be up to 5 kg.

These results demonstrate the usefulness of these birds in maintaining the natural biological balance in forests, which in itself justifies the placement of artificial nests in forests. These nests successfully compensate for the lack of natural gaps in trees. Therefore, achieving a general increase in the population levels of insectivorous birds, including their stability and survival in the forest ecosystem, as well as the resulting benefit it represents in the fight against harmful insects.


Using the birds' nests

The nests are used in campaigns to protect insectivorous birds, by encouraging their populations through the installation of nests.

The use of nests is widespread amongst Conservationist Societies, Environmental Groups, Universities, Vocational Colleges, Town Councils, Education Centres, Summer Camps, Nature Study Centres, Youth Groups and in general, any individual that is interested.

bird and nest ECONEX


Placing the birds nests

There are no fixed rules regarding the most suitable location the entrance hole to the nest has to have, as it depends on each specific location. The East and South orientations are most common. Orientations frequently exposed to very strong winds, storms or any other unfavourable weather conditions should be avoided.

In order to prevent the nests from slipping, it is advisable to install them between the secondary branches or the fork of a tree. The height of the location seems to be irrelevant with regard to the occupancy of the birds, although in public places it is recommended to raise the nest up to a minimum of 4 or 5 metres from the ground.

The most suitable time to install the nests is in late Autumn, so that the birds can use them as protection from the winter weather. Furthermore, by already being familiarised with the forest, they will be easily accepted to nest in the following Spring.


ECONEX NESTING BOX FOR INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS (Code: TA190)

ECONEX NIDAL INSECTIVATING BIRDS

MEASUREMENTS: Width: 12 cm.// Height: 27,5 cm.// Depth: 25 cm. // Entrance to the nest: 3 cm. Support at the entrance to the nest: 2,5 cm long and 0,8 cm diameter.

ECONEX NESTING BOX FOR INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS
(Code: TA190)

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ECONEX NESTING BOX FOR INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS (ECO) (Code: TA205)

ECONEX NIDEO FOR BATS

MEASUREMENTS: Width: 16 cm.// Height: 26cm.// Depth: 18cm. // Entrance to the nest: 3 cm. Support at the entrance to the nest: 1,4 cm long, 9,5 cm width and 1 cm depth.

ECONEX NESTING BOX FOR INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS (ECO)
(Code: TA205)

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Packaging diffuser


ECONEX THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA 60 DAYS

Corrugated cardboard box of 400 units (20 packs of 20 units)
Box size: 0.32×0.24×0.22 m (length x width x height)
Box weight: 1.5 kg

envase de 20 unidades

Pack of 20 units

Caja con 400 unidades

Box with 400 units.
(20 packs x 20 units)

ECONEX THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA 200 DAYS

Corrugated cardboard box of 400 units (20 packs of 20 units)
Box size: 0.32×0.24×0.22 m (length x width x height)
Box weight: 1.6 kg

pack of 20 units

Pack with 20 units.

Box with 400 units

Box with 400 units.
(20 packs x 20 units)


ECONEX G TRAP packaging


ECONEX G TRAP

Corrugated cardboard box with 18 traps.
Box measurements: 0.60×0.40×0.35 m (length x width x height).
Box weight: 9.5 kg
Nº of boxes per pallet: 20
Pallet measurements: 1.20 x 0.80 x 1.95 m (length x width x height).
Pallet weight: 200 kg

Box with 400 units

Box with 18 units.


PROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX®L packaging


PROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX® L

Corrugated cardboard box with 10 units.
Box measurements: 0.80×0.60×0.48 m (length x width x height).
Box weight: 9.5 kg
Nº of boxes per pallet: 8
Pallet measurements: 1.20 x 0.80 x 2.05 m (length x width x height).
Pallet weight: 86 kg

Box with 10 units

Box with 10 units.


Nest packaging


ECONEX BAT BOX

Corrugated cardboard box with 6 units.
Box measurements: 0.60×0.40×0.35 m (length x width x height).
Box weight: 8.5 kg
Nº of boxes per pallet: 20
Pallet measurements: 1.20 x 0.80 x 1.95 m (length x width x height).
Pallet weight: 180 kg

Box with 120 units

Box with 6 units.


ECONEX NESTING BOX FOR INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS

Corrugated cardboard box with 20 units.
Box measurements: 0.80×0.60×0.48 m (length x width x height).
Box weight: 27.5 kg
Nº of boxes per pallet: 8
Pallet measurements: 1.20 x 0.80 x 2.05 m (length x width x height).
Pallet weight: 230 kg

Box with 150 units

Box with 20 units.


ECONEX NESTING BOX FOR INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS (ECO)

Corrugated cardboard box with 20 units.
Box measurements: 0.80×0.60×0.48 m (length x width x height).
Box weight: 7.95 kg
Nº of boxes per pallet: 8
Pallet measurements: 1.20 x 0.80 x 2.05 m (length x width x height).
Pallet weight: 169 kg

Box with 150 units

Box with 20 units.


Recommended Information:


ECONEX CATALOGUE OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES FOR FOREST PESTS

Catalogue in PDF format with an extension of 94 pages. It is an essential work of reference to understand the biological behaviour of the main species of forest insects and the solutions given by ECONEX to respond effectively to the problems created by them through the use of traps and specific attractants.

ECONEX CATALOGUE OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES FOR FOREST PESTS


ECONEX LEAFLET THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA – ECONEX G TRAP

Leaflet in PDF format that can be downloaded by clicking on the image.

ECONEX LEAFLET THAUMETOPOEA PITYOCAMPA – ECONEX G TRAP


PROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX® L LEAFLET

Leaflet in PDF format that can be downloaded by clicking on the image.

ROCESSIONARYTRAPNEX® L LEAFLET


ECONEX WEBSITE RESOURCES

Section of the ECONEX corporate website that allows you to access online information about ECONEX solutions for the biocontrol of other particularly relevant agricultural and forest pests.

To access the ECONEX WEB RESOURCES click on the image.

ECONEX WEB RESOURCES

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