Experts warn people with allergies to be cautious about the rise in the population of the pine processionary mouse moth, a species that is only found in the Mediterranean region.
Although it is native to the Mediterranean region, the pine processionary moth – or the Thaumetopoea pityocampa – which causes the drying and death of red pine trees by forming tulle-like sacs on trees, has been seen frequently in Istanbul for the last few years.
Professor M. Bora Kaydan, a lecturer at Çukurova University’s Department of Biotechnology and Entomology, evaluated the presence of the pine processionary insect, a long-haired caterpillar, and stated that the insect species is found in almost every part of the Mediterranean region.
Kaydan stated that “it stands out because (now) it was reported in Istanbul, but it’s one of the most serious problems in the Mediterranean region.”
Kaydan stated that the species has caused serious problems for the pine trees in the area for a long time.
“Global climate change is why it is so prominently seen in Istanbul. Global climate change has been one of the greatest problems in the globe. Global climate change refers to extreme climatic events. Very heavy rains can occur in the middle of June and July. One of the most important effects comes from the south. Insects can also move north to south because of the increase in temperature to the north. They can also move between the plains and higher elevations. This is true for not only the pine processionary mott but many other insect species. In recent years, many other insects have also entered the country. This is the species movement we are referring to with global climate change, which causes the displacement of species.
Kaydan stated, “If the temperature and migrations north continue as they are, there is a high possibility that there will be an increased population of the pine processionary Moths in Istanbul.” He also mentioned that different bugs and bacteria can be used to fight this species.
It is possible to use a coleoptera species to combat it. Parasitoid species are also quite common. The population will not be suppressed by any other species. Under normal conditions, we don’t recommend using chemicals in forests. These are not suitable for the bacterium ‘BT’. These are recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It is recommended that biological control be used. However, it is also recommended to preserve the biological balance.
Kaydan stressed that there is no major threat in the Black Sea region.
“Because there aren’t many such pines within the Black Sea region I don’t believe they will cross over to this side. The reason that pines are being planted in Istanbul is because they were brought from the Mediterranean to be grown there. The Black Sea has its unique vegetation. It is unlikely that it will be seen in other parts of the country. It is also raining very heavily in the Black Sea area. These are the reasons why I don’t believe it could exist.
Kaydan explained to us that pine processionary insects can cause allergic reactions in humans, and that even birds cannot eat them.
All hairs have chemicals that can cause allergies. They cause severe allergic reactions that can also be seen in laboratory workers who are trying to eradicate the species. It can burn as soon as you touch them.”
Professor Bülent Tutluoğlu, president of the Academic Respiratory Society and a chest diseases specialist, also provided information about the harm that the pine processionary moth can cause to human health.
They can cause skin rashes or a widespread allergy. Normally, all insect species have the potential to create symptoms characterized by severe throat congestion and narrowing of the airways, which we call anaphylaxis in very sensitive individuals … People with very serious allergies may experience allergic reactions that can lead to death before they can reach the hospital,” Tutluoğlu said, adding that people with serious sensitivity to any insect species will react the same to pine processionary moths.
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