Oak Processionary Moths in London

Oak Processionary Moths in London

We are all crossing our fingers for a some glorious bank holiday weather during May. If you are getting out and enjoying some fresh air then please be careful to avoid these Moth pests. The caterpillars of this moth have been found in several places around southern England, including Fulham and Chelsea this year.

In recent year in late Spring and early Summer the caterpillars of this type of moth start to emerge from their nests. They feed on Oak trees and are harmful to the tree. The caterpillars tend to move in a “procession” hence the name, either in a long nose-to-tail line or in an “arrow” shaped formation. They have some long white hairs and other shorter hairs. They are usually around an oak tree. They form nests in oak trees around the branches, these are white silken nests.

If you think you see a caterpillar then please do not touch them and make sure your children know not to touch caterpillars or disturb their nests. Their hairs contain a strongly irritating substance called thaumetopoein, this can cause itchy skin rashes, sore throats and breathing difficulties.

The Forestry Commission have lots of great information if you think you might have seen a caterpillar or nest, they will tell you how to identify these caterpillars and nests, if you do find them then please get in touch with the Forestry Commission and they will come to remove them. Get more information from them here… 

Dr Lucy Hooper