The Oak Processionary Moth, a potentially deadly creature from the continent, has been found hatching across London and into the outer suburbs, including Pangbourne in Berkshire and Kew Gardens in Richmond, posing a risk to both trees and humans. http://www.kew.org/science/news/oak-processionary-moth.html
Where does the Oak Processionary Moth come from?
- The Oak Processionary Moth originates from Southern Europe and its presence has been expanding north for the past 20 years
- The movement of this destructive moth has been mostly down to the international trade in shrubs
What are the risks of the Oak Processionary Moth?
- The movement of the caterpillars from nose to tail procession, hence the name, can strip a tree bare of foliage and bark leaving them exposed and vulnerable to disease and other pests
- After being stripped by the Oak Processionary Moths, the trees can also become less able to withstand environmental factors such as flood and drought
- 700,000 toxic hairs can be found on one single caterpillar
- The poisonous hairs can become detached and carried by the wind, landing on clothing or skin
- Symptoms after coming into contact with the Oak Processionary Moth include burning of the eyes and skin and in severe cases anaphylactic shock
What action is being taken against the Oak Processionary Moth?
- Action is underway by the Forestry Commission to hunt and destroy the Oak Processionary Moth, however their hopes of eradicating the creature are no longer thought possible
- Curbing the spread of the Oak Processionary Moth has been described as the best outcome by entomologists
- In Pangbourne, aerial spraying of the known infected areas has taken place in the hope of destroying the nests
- The Forestry Commission has advised people not to remove any Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars or nests for the obvious health risks
- People are encouraged to report any presence to either the local council or Plant Health Service