Public warned ‘do not touch under any circumstances’ as pest spreads in UK | UK | News | EUROtoday

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Everyone is being urged to be looking out for a caterpillar which causes throat and eye irritation and is spreading within the UK.

The public are being urged to be vigilant of any sightings of oak processionary moth caterpillars – however ‘do not touch under any circumstances’.

The distinctive furry caterpillars mass on bushes, stripping oak bushes of their foliage and leaving them open to illnesses which may kill the tree totally.

The caterpillars are largely discovered within the South East of England having made the bounce from Europe to London initially however they’ve been discovered as far-off as Derbyshire too.

OPM caterpillars and their nests, that are fabricated from distinctive white silken webbing,include hairs that may trigger itchy rashes, eye and throat irritation and shouldn’t be touched beneath any circumstances.

The nests could be discovered within the trunk or branches of Oak bushes, and fade to a light-weight brown over time, the general public are urged by no means to attempt to get rid of the nests themselves.

Andrew Hoppit, Oak Processionary Moth Project Manager at Forestry England, mentioned: “It is important those living and working in areas affected by oak processionary moth remain vigilant about the health risks they pose, when enjoying outdoor spaces, as we are entering the greatest risk period.

“The Forestry Commission has a whole host of information online that can be used to identify the moth, simply visit managing oak processionary moth in England. If you spot the pest, report the sighting via our TreeAlert portal. Alternatively, you can email”

Professor Nicola Spence, UK Chief Plant Health Officer, mentioned: “Oak trees are an iconic and much-loved part of our British landscape. By reporting any sightings of the oak processionary moth to the Forestry Commission, we can all minimise the pest’s spread as well as reduce their impact on tree health.

“I would advise that members of the public living in London, the surrounding areas and Derbyshire, avoid any contact with the caterpillar and its nests, as this can cause irritation.”