Government warning to watch out for poisonous creepy crawlies

Published: 9 Jun 2014 11:001 comment

POISONOUS creepy crawlies which can cause rashes and breathing difficulties need to be watched out for, a Government department has warned.

The Forestry Commission has advised people to stay away from the nests of the Oak processionary moth (OPM) which contain thousands of caterpillar hairs.

These hairs can cause unpleasant skin rashes, eye and throat irritations and, occasionally, breathing difficulties in humans and animals.

People can also be affected if they touch the caterpillars or if the hairs are blown into contact by the wind. The animals can also shed the hairs as a defence mechanism.

OPM have started to build their silken web nests on oak trees in Berkshire and large populations can strip whole oak trees bare of leaves, leaving them vulnerable to attack by other pests and diseases, and less able to withstand adverse environmental events such as drought and floods.

Currently the catarpillars are only known to be present in parts of Salham Woods near Pangbourne and it is thought they are close to eradication.

Report sightings of OPM or their nests to your local council.

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  • ForestryCommission
    1 post
    Jun 9, 16:24
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    Hi from the Forestry Commission: Oak processionary moth is only known to be present in the Pangbourne area of Berkshire. This is a very small outbreak which might be close to eradication. There have been no reports from Buckinghamshire. The most westerly known point of the West London outbreak is in Hillingdon Borough, east of Heathrow Airport. Sightings can be reported to, 0845 367 3787, or via our Tree Alert app or on-line form - but first please check the information on our website at to be sure it is oak processionary moth caterpillars or nests that you have seen, and not those of a harmless but similar species. Thank you.

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