They multiply so quickly sometimes that they lead to the closure of certain parks, to prevention operations by certain communities, such as recently in Fontenay-sous-Bois (Val-de-Marne). It’s spring and the processionary caterpillars are here.
They are one of the reasons that lead pet owners to go to veterinary emergencies like those at the National Veterinary School of Alfort, in Maisons-Alfort. “We receive them every year even if Île-de-France is not the most affected region”, immediately specifies Alix Barbarino, assistant to the head of the emergency, resuscitation and intensive care service, l ‘URSI.
It receives affected animals every year, mainly dogs and cats. Ferrets may also be affected. Quite simply by approaching these insects “which have a lot of extremely stinging little hairs”.
The first piece of advice, “is to rinse the animal as quickly as possible”, explains Alix Barbarino. Without forgetting to wear gloves, “because these caterpillars are also stinging for humans”. When it comes to dogs and cats, the face and front legs are usually the most affected areas.
“We always check if there are lesions in the mouth and eyes, if the cornea is affected. “Painkillers are often given because contact with the caterpillars can be “extremely painful”, explains the URSI service assistant. The easiest and fastest way to counter it is to also use baking soda, which will have the effect of eliminating the stinging effect.
In all cases, a veterinary check is required as soon as possible.
Recently, the emergency department also sees arriving injured animals due to the absorption of spikelets. “Some cities like Paris are putting more and more grasses”, notes Alix Barbarino. Without knowing if the link can be made directly. However, a cat was recently admitted with an ulcer caused by a spikelet. Dogs and cats can swallow them, inhale them. They can also lodge in the bearings.
“Unlike caterpillars, you don’t necessarily see it,” says Alix Barbarino. And it sometimes happens that it takes several months before a wound is revealed on an animal, if the spikelet has been swallowed for example.