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The dreadful Arbutus Caterpillar

For an introduction into this stinging matter, go and read big cool entomologist Jean Henri Fabre’s Life of a Caterpillar(1916). It’s two pages long and all worth reading. It will make you itch and scratch. I appreciated especially the last part where he experiments on himself with ether and bandages to simulate severe cases of infection to woodcutters and people who spend a lot of time working in the woods.


But you don’t have to worry. To protect yourselves against the itching and scratching is So Easy. You don’t need to dress like an Ikarian bee-keeper.


Before you enter a caterpillar infested area, take care to cover your skin with TALCUM POWDER!!! It’s cheap, eco-friendly, nice smelling and you can find it everywhere. I think talcum also provides some protection against the sun. Afterwards, you can remove from your skin with a small towel (remember to wash it later) or you can just go for a swim.

It works! Word of an ‘agrimi’

Update: Photo of the arbutus caterpillar’s moth

a moth


If you are “hit” and enter the “scratching state”,

Fenistil or any other antihistamine cream is the medicine but to take effect…

i) you have to take off your clothesfully or partly

ii) pour water (from your bottle or from a pool) on your body

iii) rub yourselves with a towel or anything like it

iv) lay the cream on your skin

v) shake the dust off your clothes

vi) wait until the cream dries on you skin and put your clothes back on

vii) stay away from direct sunlight for at least one hour

The irritation from the arbutus caterpillar (how bad it might be) doesn’t last more than a couple of hours. So don’t panic. Also, unlike other European caterpillars, the arbutus caterpillar does not contaminate the air. It can only affect your skin, not your respiratory system (unless you are allergic!).


Now here is a tip for afterwards when the caterpillars become shiny snow white moths. Their “powder” is also irritating like the caterpillar’s, but they are not in the woods anymore. They are moths and like all moths, they fly at night and they are attracted by light. So you can see them in clouds around street lamps and outside hotel rooms and restaurants. The most efficient way to get rid of them is to put a large washbowl full of water under a lamp and leave it there through the night. The moths will be attracted by the reflection of the light in the water and they will fall in and drown! Cruel, eh? That’s a good old village trick.

That’s all I know about the infamous Arbutus Caterpillar.

Stay coool like Jean Henri Fabre.

this entry made you scratch?
votes : 3
votes : 1
Wednesday May 30, 2007 – 11:35pm (EEST)


(4 total)

Talcum! Yes! How havent I thought of it? In the past in Ikaria farmers, woodcutters etc swept dust from the ground and covered their skin against the caterpillar. If that worked, talcum that catches better on the skin would work 10 times more. Thank you Nan.
Anyway, things are not too bad this year. The caterpillar appeared in only a few restrained areas with raspberries. And there was very very little of the other caterpillar : the processor, or pinetree caterpillar.

Allow me to suggest a large straw hat (Greek fisherman style) or anything like this to cover the back of the neck. To cover the back of the neck is wise in any case. Go naked if you like, but cover the top of your head and the back of your neck. We are very vulnerable in these 2 spots.

ψάθινο καπέλο

Friday June 1, 2007 – 06:16pm (EEST)

They are on the leaves of my roses! I didn’t know you had taken a photo!

Saturday June 2, 2007 – 01:21pm (PDT)

Latest : Vinegar! Talcum powder before and if infected, put a lot of vinegar on you skin! Attention! NOT IKARIAN VINEGAR! Too strong; it might burn your skin. Use standard vinegar from a resteurant or a supermarket!


Το ταλκ προστατεύει. Αν όμως προσβληθείτε, πλυθείτε με κοινό ξύδι της αγοράς. Όχι τοπικό Ικαριώτικο ξύδι γιατί είναι πολύ δυνατό και μπορεί να κάψει το δέρμα σας!

Wednesday April 23, 2008 – 02:11pm (EEST)

Update 🙂

Speaking about moths, another thing you can see is this giant night butterfly –or moth. In Ikaria there are a lot. They call them νυχτοπατελούδες or ψυχάρια. They hide under the thorns for protection as well as to find moisture during daytime. At night they take off. They must be very tasty because owls hunt them a lot. I have never tasted one. There is nothing scary about them except that you can mistake them for a bat.


I hate bats

  But these giant moths have a cute alien face with a smile.



However when they are not yet butterflies and still worms (caterpillars), they look disgusting. Or maybe not?

Saturnia pyri caterpillar ikaria

No! The biggest European moth’s caterpillar is NOT disgusting.

It’s got NEEDLES on its backand they are very beautiful !!!


3 Σχόλια »

  1. […] Especially in August and September the forest is dusty and dry and there may  also be some caterpillar “itching powder” left from last June. So, in spite of how attracted you feel at the sound of a magnificent term, […]

    Αρέσει σε 3 άτομα

  2. […] can a girl do when she’s got a rash from arbutus caterpillars while running in the […]

    Αρέσει σε 2 άτομα

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