These toxic caterpillars are terrorizing Europe

Beware the march of the hairy caterpillars.

Large chunks of Europe are battling pesky infestations of oak processionary caterpillars, whose tiny toxic hairs get captured and spread by wind — and cause severe allergic reactions and skin irritations in humans and pets.

Millions of the inch-long insects, moving nose-to-tail in processions, have appeared across the continent — with just one mature caterpillar having up to 700,000 toxin-laden hairs, which then get spread by the wind, according to the BBC.

The nests are deemed too dangerous to touch and have caused an onslaught of rashes, eye irritations, coughing or even allergic reaction, according to the reports.

Firefighters in Belgium were called in to destroy nests before a rock concert in Louvain, and the tiny pests have even caused schools and parks to close in parts of Germany, the BBC noted.

The caterpillars have become such a talking point that a video of an elderly woman taking a heat gun to them has gone viral in the Netherlands.

Attie Saas, 69, can be seen giving the finger to the “rotten beasts” before burning them with the heat gun. “I’ll tackle them, those bastards,” she vows, according to NL Times.

A large park in Dortmund in Germany was closed for three weeks because as many as 500 trees were infested, the BBC said, citing local TV.

Special teams there and elsewhere have donned protective gear and used firefighters’ lifts to reach the treetops, where they have attacked the caterpillar nests with blowtorches or big vacuum cleaners.

“The oak processionary infestation this year is very intensive — much more than last year,” said the Fredenbaumpark manager Frank Dartsch.

The oak processionary caterpillars get their name from their preference for oak trees and the fact that they travel in nose-to-tail processions.

They eventually turn into moths in late July, when the threat will finally diminish, according to the BBC.

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