General advice has been issued to avoid going into pine wood and forest areas during February because of the higher incidence of the processionary caterpillar than usual. The weather - warmer temperatures, lack of rain and cold - has allowed the caterpillar to thrive to a greater extent than would normally be the case, and indeed it has led to the earlier than usual appearance of the trails of caterpillar in some parts of Majorca. There is also advice to seek medical attention in the event of allergic reaction to the caterpillar hairs.
Across the island, local authorities are adopting the traditional method of trying to eliminate the caterpillar nests, which is to shoot them down from pine trees. This might seem crude but it is effective, with local hunters and police marksmen used. There has, however, been criticism of lack of action by some town halls, such as Pollensa's. Attention has been drawn to the large number of nests along Puerto Pollensa's famed pinewalk.
While the caterpillar is a menace in that it can provoke allergic reactions and also be highly dangerous to dogs and cats, it is also a pest that harms the trees through the action of the larvae eating pine needles.
The weather is responsible for the far higher incidence of another pest - the Mediterranean fruit fly, which attacks citrus fruits. In low-lying areas of the island, such as in Muro and Manacor, trees have been affected, but in higher areas, notably Soller, where there have been lower overnight temperatures, the pest has not taken hold and damaged orange trees. However, if the weather pattern remains much as it has been, there could be further harm to the island's valuable fruits.
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