Poisonous caterpillar to strike earlier than usual this year

Poisonous caterpillar to strike earlier than usual this year

We’ve only been without the pesky poisonous oak processionary caterpillar for a couple of months, but due to the mild winter, it won't be long before it strikes again.

Caterpillar eggs may survive winter

Let’s be honest, it’s not exactly been wintry in the Netherlands, and, according to weather forecasts, it doesn’t look as though we are going to get any cold weather anytime soon. This isn’t just bad news for those whose dream it is to skate on the canals or try their luck with the Elfstedentocht; it’s also bad for those living near oak trees, as a mild winter increases the survival chance of the irksome critter’s eggs.

Above-average temperatures are expected for the whole of January, and, according to Dutch Pest & Wildlife Expertise Centre (KAD) director Bastiaan Meerburg, this means that the oak processionary caterpillar’s eggs will probably hatch in March instead of April – nightmare! Whether this means there will be more caterpillars or not is hard to say. Meerburg does, however, say that the peak of this caterpillar’s season, which was on June 15 last year, will be a month earlier this time around.

Dealing with the pesky critters

Luckily, unlike last year, many municipalities are already making preparations for the coming caterpillar season. In some places, municipalities have even put up hundreds of birdhouses for predators of the pest, to try and tackle it in a more natural way. A good call, as last year, the oak processionary caterpillar caused three times as much nuisance as it did the year before. Tens of thousands of people reported skin irritation, eye problems and lung problems to doctors.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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Achterhoeksejongen 09:52 | 16 January 2020

Particularly bad in the Achterhoek due to the amount of oak trees.