Ecological control of the Oak Processionary Caterpillar (Thaumetopoea processionea)

Project Details


The oak processionary caterpillar (Thaumetopoea processionea) produces irritating hairs that cause inflammation of the skin and eyes, and lung problems in humans and animals. This can even lead to anaphylactic shock. In the past, this caterpillar was controlled by spraying pesticides that are now prohibited. They are currently controlled by a biocide (Bacillus thuringiensis). However, this product is not recognized as an authorized biocide in EU legislation. The provinces of Antwerp and Limburg have received a temporary permit from the national government. In addition, there are also various studies that demonstrate a negative impact on (invertebrate) biodiversity.

The current project aims to develop ecological methods to control the oak processionary caterpillar by optimizing the ecosystem service of natural enemies. The methods that will be used have already proven their effectiveness abroad in the control of the sister species pine processionary caterpillar.
In total there are three work packages:
- (Verge) management for the attraction of invertebrate parasitoids and predators
- Attract tits, a natural enemy, by installing nest boxes
- The reintroduction of the forest caterpillar hunter, Calosoma sycophanta, a predatory ground beetle
Effective start/end date1/09/2031/08/25

Thematic List 2020

  • Soil & air
  • Nature & society