Dave’s Dangerous Gardening Encounters

Over the past 10 years Dave has encountered many unexpected surprises in his chosen profession of gardening in the Costa Blanca.

I have already discussed the dangers of the simple Oleander but I thought I would expand on this theme with a few of the other dangers he has encountered over the years.

The Prickley Pear

The ‘Prickly Pear’ is a form of Cactus which has Glochids, these are hair like spines or short prickles and are generally barbed. They easily detach from the plant and can lodge in the skin causing irritation upon contact.

Prickley PearThats the technical definition in reality they are little blighters that in bed in your skin and drive you absolutely mental….especially those of us who are getting on in years and cannot see as well as we used to because although they hurt every time you touch one they are near impossible to see….once you have located them they are fairly easily removed with a pair of tweezers but boy it takes time to locate them without good lighting and 20/20 vision… and just to make matters worse each ‘tuft’ contains hundreds of the little B……so just when you think you have got one out and breath a sigh of relief you discover there was more than one.

So Dangerous Dave’s advice…Keep the kiddy winkles well clear or you will end up playing a version of ‘Needle in a Hay Stack’
wth the crying kids for the whole of your holiday.

On a serious note however since simply brushing against this plant can lead to literally hundreds of these barely visible barbs becoming imbedded it is advisable to seek medical attention if affected.

Processionary Caterpillars

I cannot continue discussing the danger of Dave’s highly hazardous profession without mentioning the much dreaded Processionary Caterpillars that are unfortunately a common site in the Costa Blanca. The Processionary Moth only lives for about a day usually during May to July, and in that time it finds a mate, it does the business, it lays its eggs (up to 300) and then it dies…if only we were all so efficient at multi tasking.

Processionary CaterpillarsOnce the eggs are hatched they grow in a white cotton wool like cocoon (usually in Pine Trees) feeding on the pine leaves until they are ready to leave. They usually leave their cocoon any time from February to April on mass in one long line which is where they get their name…They are on a mission to find a good place to burrow into the ground to start the whole process all over again, however it is at the time that they leave the nest that they are at their most dangerous.

If they feel threatened they eject hairs like little harpoons. These are particularly harmful to small children and pets. It is also important to be wary
of the nests they have left behind as these nests can still contain hundreds of the little barbs which can be toxic.The little hairs can cause itching, swelling vomiting and even death, it is very important to seek professional medical assistance if you suspect you or your pet has been affected.

If you think you have these pests please let your neighbours know so they can be aware, especially for their pets. It is advisable to engage a professional to get rid of these nests.

Gardening on the Costa Blanca can be a very pleasurable pastime, and a good way to get some exercise in the great outdoors but every keen gardener should always make themselves aware of potential dangers lurking in the beautiful sunshine.

On a final note to all the budding gardeners out there always remember ‘a weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in a row’…and ‘knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit and Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad….

GP Gardens are a specialist garden maintenance and landscaping company providing low cost efficient and reliable service to residents and visitors. For more information about our services, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

GP GARDENS
Telephone: Mobile 666 996 394 (Fax 965 787 188)
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Contact: David Goss