Home In focus Spot any of these oak tree caterpillars? Here’s what to do…

Spot any of these oak tree caterpillars? Here’s what to do…

by Gemma Melling

Pictured above: How an infestation of Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillars might look: photo by Henry Kuppen. 

The Forestry Commission England has shared information relating to the Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) – a non-native species that can come into the country via tree imports.

Some oak trees carrying the caterpillars or the eggs have been imported recently and there have been reports of the caterpillar in the north of England for the first time.

The oak processionary caterpillars’ tiny hairs contain a toxin which can lead to itching skin lesions and, less commonly, sore throats, breathing difficulties or eye problems. This can happen if people touch the caterpillars or nests, or if the hairs are blown into contact by the wind.

The Forrestry Commision, local authorities and landowners are working hard to control this pest, ensuring residents and visitors can enjoy the UK’s parks, gardens and woodlands.

What should I do if I suspect the presence of Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillars?

Further information about the facts, identifying OPM caterpillars, protecting yourself and how to report incidents, can be found on the Forrestry Commision’s website – or you can download their information leaflet.