At this time of year the P-O transforms into a kaleidoscope of wildflowers. Lesley McLaren takes us through a few of the more common ones to be found in the verges, hedgerows and rocky slopes of the Albères and Vallespir.

It’s all go! Migrant birds are returning from their winter homes and mammals are getting frisky; reptiles are emerging and bugs are flying. There are territories to be claimed and defended, mates to attract, nests to build, setts to clean, burrows to renovate, young to feed. And the backdrop to this frenetic activity is a landscape transformed into countless shades of green.

At this time of year, we read a lot about Pine Processionary Caterpillars, hairy and dangerous little fellows who can cause severe irritation and allergic reactions in both human and animals who touch them or who come across their hairs, which can also blow in the wind.

We’re talking stingers again! Despite being maligned and feared by many, hornets are far less hostile than so-called ‘social’ wasps – at least towards us humans. Some hornet lovers label our native European species ‘gentle giants’. But we also have Asian hornets in the PO. How do they differ and what’s the problem with them? Lesley McLaren explains.

These are in fact caterpillar nests, constructed by the pine processionary caterpillar (chenille processionnaire) larva, who live in large ‘tents’ and march out at night in single file (hence the name) to feed on the pine needles.

Traditional Chinese Medicinal practitioners have long revered the bark, leaves and flowers for its health benefits and yet there is little modern research on this tree which was also used by the ancient Mayans for trauma injuries and burns.

1 2 3 9