People in the South East of England are reminded to report sightings of the Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars which could be damaging oak trees in the area.
Nests are typically dome or teardrop-shaped, averaging the size of a tennis ball. They are white when fresh, but soon become discoloured and brown. The caterpillars have black heads and bodies, covered in long white hairs which contain proteins which can cause itchy rashes and eye and throat irritations. They can occasionally cause breathing difficulties in people and pets so should not be touched. The greatest risk period is May to July when the caterpillars emerge and feed before pupating into adult moths. The caterpillars feed on oak leaves which can leave the trees vulnerable to other pests, diseases and drought.
Any sightings should be reported to the Forestry Commission via its tree alert online form or alternatively email [email protected]
Removal of the moth nests should be done by trained pest control experts.