Video: Elderly woman’s heat gun assault on poisonous caterpillars

A Dutch tourist snapped this photo of thousands of oak processionary caterpillars covering a tree at a campsite in Volstroff, France. June 17, 2019
A Dutch tourist snapped this photo of thousands of oak processionary caterpillars covering a tree at a campsite in Volstroff, France. June 17, 2019Photo: NL Times

A video of a 69-year-old Enschede woman enthusiastically attacking oak processionary caterpillars with a heat gun, is going viral in the Netherlands. According to Attie Saas, this is the only way to tackle these poisonous caterpillars - or "rotten beasts" as she calls them - which are currently plaguing the Netherlands. 

In the video, Attie can be seen giving the caterpillars the finger, before burning them with the heat gun at close range. "I'll tackle them, those bastards."

The elderly woman hasn't really noticed her online fame, she said to De Stentor. "My son said that the video on Dumpert has already been viewed by 800 thousand people. Is that right? I myself don't have computer experience, had never heard of that Dumpert. But it sounds like a nice accomplishment." According to Attie, the power lies in the way she tells her story. "I used to give speech therapy at primary schools in Rijssen and Almelo, so I know: if you make it a bit juicy, the message will sink in better. I kind of spiced it up."

The oak processionary caterpillars get their name from their preference for oak trees and the fact that they travel in nose-to-tail processions. Their venomous hairs can cause skin irritation and breathing problems in humans and animals. 

The number of oak processionary caterpillars has tripled in many places in the Netherlands compared to last year. Provinces like Noord-Brabant, Drenthe, and Overijssel, where many oak trees grow, are most affected. But there's been a strong increase throughout the Netherlands, according to the Knowledge Center on Oak Processionary Caterpillars. It is estimated that hundreds of millions of these caterpillars are currently infesting Dutch trees. 

According to the Knowledge Center, it is very unwise to try and deal with these caterpillars yourself. And attacking them with a heat gun is not a good idea, a spokesperson said to NOS. "If such a nest is attacked by a heat gun, there will be an explosion of hair and you can increase the problem."

 

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