PET OWNERS have been warned to keep an eye out for processionary caterpillars after sightings on the Costa del Sol.
A local Fuengirola information page has reported on Facebook the sighting of the dangerous caterpillars next to the river between Fuengirola and Los Boliches.
The page also stated that people should avoid stepping on the caterpillars and to keep dogs away from them.
The distinctive caterpillars, of orange-brown colour and blue bands, pose a severe threat to humans and are deadly to animals.
The pine processionary moth flies around for one day during which time it must mate and lay its eggs in the foliage of a pine tree. A single female can lay up to 300 eggs.
After hatching they build a white cotton-wool like nest and continue to feed on the pine leaves until they leave the nest which can be anytime from February to April.
At this point, the caterpillars make their way to the ground in a long nose-to-tail chain searching for the next place in their life cycle.
This is the stage when they can be a real danger to humans and other animals.
It is the hairs of the caterpillars that can cause problems.
Dogs are particularly susceptible as they will pick up the hairs on their paws and then lick them as they start to itch. This then leads to the hairs being transferred on to the animal’s tongue and can result in itching, swelling, vomiting and even death.
Con el calor llega la #orugaprocesionaria. Es el momento de "estar ojo avizor" para que nuestro peludo no se acerque. Si lame una oruga o sufre una picadura tendrá graves heridas o incluso puede morir.#YoSiPuedoContarlo 🐕🚶♀️ pic.twitter.com/W84ALyQZrK
— Guardia Civil 🇪🇸 (@guardiacivil) February 26, 2019
You should never attempt to remove a nest yourself as it is a job for a specialist.