The oak processionary moth, called Thaumetopoea processionea in Latin, is a nocturnal butterfly. As the name suggests, the oak processionary spinner lives almost exclusively in all species of oak. He prefers warm and dry regions. In particular, the oak processionary moth can be found on forest edges, in sparse oak forests, avenues and individual trees. The otherwise inconspicuous butterfly draws attention to itself through regular mass increases in particularly dry years. Then it also affects younger trees and can cause considerable damage. The oak procession spinner is approximately 25 to 32 millimeters in size. The female lays up to 300 eggs on the one to three year old shoots of an oak tree in the upper area, preferably on the south side. The very hairy caterpillars hatch in the first half of April.
From the third larval stage, the nettle poison thaumetopein develops in the barbs of the caterpillar. The caterpillar, which is up to four centimeters in size, is also dangerous for humans. The nettle poison can cause reactions that are sometimes life-threatening. Skin contact often causes an itchy rash. Common complaints such as fever or dizziness often occur as a result. If the hairs are inhaled, there is a risk of severe irritation to the airways and inflammatory reactions in the lungs. Local eye inflammation can result from contact with eyes. In the worst case, the poison triggers an allergic shock. (vb)
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