A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom.
— Chinese Proverb
Oak processionary caterpillars are in the news a lot these days. They share their habitat with us, humans. And this is not pleasant for both parties. Children come home after playing in the park or playground, covered in an angry red rash. Cyclists and joggers have irritated eyes and respiratory tract.
Last Sunday, V-man and I went for a walk in the woods of Ulvenhout. It was the first time I saw the oak processionary caterpillar in real life. We spotted them in at least six places: white hazy nests of industrious caterpillars with long blond hair. Fortunately, they kept their defensive bristles to themselves.
Though the plague seems to be a new phenomenon, in the nineteenth century, these creatures also frequently occurred in the South of the Netherlands. The natural enemies of the caterpillars are parasitic wasps, parasitic flies and … great tits. Let us install a lot of nest boxes for these brave birds with their peculiar menu!