High up in a Pine Tree - what is it?

Was trying out my new zoom camera and saw something out of place in a neighbour’s pine tree - too far away and too high to get close for a look see.

The end of a clump of pine leaves and cones appears to be covered with a web in a photo blowup - a LOT of web!

I presume it’s an insect - anyone know what sort of insect?

Processionary caterpillars not nice at all, keep everyone well away from them especially dogs, nasty things.


Thank you Colin, I see from the article that Great Tits, Bats, Solitary Wasps and Hoopoes are predators to these caterpillars and there are plenty of these around where I live. So hopefully shan’t see too many of the caterpillars. Have only once in the last 25 years seen a procession near my house. Hairy wriggly things!

@Bonzocat VERY nasty Bruce. Do you have any in your own garden? If I bought a house with pine trees in the garden I would get them cut down.
We have a local gardening company, one of their staff lost an eye to the caterpillar hairs.
Friends - their dog was very ill.
With mild winters their season is lengthening. They come down from the pine trees March time onwards. If you see them in trails across the road or on your land get a large rag, soak it in petrol, light it and throw it over the caterpillars. It is NOT a good idea to stamp on them as the hairs are then in the air, on your clothes and are still dangerous. Or use a large weed flame gun.
We have friends who used to shoot the nests out with an air gun - they said it worked.
Large infestations, it’s possible to get them sprayed from the air.
One or two nests, hang out traps. You can get them in places like Gamm Vert these days.


Beastly things. You can get traps you fill with earth and strap around the treetrunk to catch them. I have had them sufficiently low to reach and my method is as follows: put a tough paper bag over the cocoon nest thing when they are at home, cut the branch, burn it. Super dangerous for pets children even adults, they are covered in VERY inflammatory irritant fur.


We had a couple of nests, due to hearing some nasty stories of how these can hurt dogs we chopped the trees down, end of problem.

Tell your neighbour! And encourage him/her to get traps as early enough in the year. In some places you are legally required to do so,#9 perhaps check with mairie.

I have burnt the ones I could reach to cut down in the past, but this year they have settled right at the tops of the trees, and there’s no way I can get to them. The spread to our trees is recent, and stems from the neighbouring pine plantations.

I am however immensely thankful for the Great Tits doing a tremendous job in feeding off them, and the saddleback crickets and praying mantissa for eating their ground-based manifestations :joy:


At one point we put up bird boxes near the nests to encourage birds to feed off them.

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We have done this too, and have had nesting pairs with young three years in a row now. Unfortunately, we also have OPM infestations, and the birdboxes are mounted on the oak trees :rofl:

Round here people do not seem to bother that they have these things living on their trees and and the Mairies don’t care either.

Same here, one of the community lakes has a playpark within 40ft of a clump of 8 pine trees with the nests in it.

I really cannot understand it.
Can you imagine the uproar if a child gets damaged by one of these awful things?
It seems to be viewed as an acceptable risk.

Next time we are there with the dog I will take a pic and you will see what I mean.

I can well imagine.
there is a tract of land as you join the N79 going south to Macon from Cluny which has fir trees on it and it is covered with the things.
Nowhere near as dangerous as near a play park but they should be removed.

The thing you could do would be to petition your mairie to make a local bye-law requiring land owners to remove nests. I know a village not far from you Jane has done this, and infected trees all have traps on the .

Il n’existe pas actuellement de réglementation nationale de lutte obligatoire.

Localement, la lutte contre l’insecte peut être imposée par arrêté préfectoral ou municipal.

Certaines villes ont pris conscience de l’impact de ce nuisible sur notre environnement et appliquent un arrêté municipal obligeant chaque année, avant la fin de la première quinzaine du mois de mars, les propriétaires ou les locataires à supprimer mécaniquement les cocons élaborés par les chenilles processionnaires du pin et à les incinérés ainsi qu’à un traitement annuel préventif à la formation de ces cocons avant la fin du mois de septembre sur les végétaux susceptibles d’être colonisés par les chenilles.


Do you think we haven’t tried.
I got our Mayor to make an anouncement at his Meilleurs Voeux.

We cut them down and burn them - carefully. Now is a good time as they will be leaving the nest soon and that is when they are a hazard. While they are in the tree they come out to feed on the needles and return to the nest; eventually when the time is right they come down the tree and across the ground and enter the ground to pupate. This is when they are especially threatening to any dog that might investigate this strange procession.

A couple of years ago we cut 22 nests out of one tree and learned our lesson not to take action too quickly - subsequent years we get 2 or 3 nests and don’t cut them out until Jan/Feb. We also use pheromone traps from August onwards, which certainly work as evidenced by the dead moths that they harbour and which are easily identifiable as the culprits. Last year we forgot the traps and we still had only a few but we will be putting the trap out this summer for sure.

And if you burn the nest, be sure to add some wood - they are amazingly resilient and will crawl out of a fire 10 minutes after the flame goes down. We love our Pin Parasol but I must admit that we do wonder if we should cut it down.