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Oak Processionary Moth found in Bexley

PUBLISHED: 14:11 16 April 2018

An oak processionary moth. Picture: Wiki Commons/Ben Sale

An oak processionary moth. Picture: Wiki Commons/Ben Sale

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Spraying will start later this month after oak processionary moths were found on trees in several of Bexley’s parks and open spaces.

While the adult moths are harmless, the hairs of their caterpillars contain a strong irritant. Picture:  Forestry Commission While the adult moths are harmless, the hairs of their caterpillars contain a strong irritant. Picture: Forestry Commission

The moth is a non-native insect, originally discovered in London 12 years ago, which has spread outwards to neighbouring boroughs of Bromley and Greenwich for several years.

Its caterpillars primarily live and feed on oak leaves, but they can also be found on the ground around infected trees.

While the adult moths are harmless, the hairs of their caterpillars contain a strong irritant.

Contact with these hairs can cause severe irritation, with skin rashes and, less commonly, sore throats, breathing difficulties and eye problems.

The nest of the Oak Processionary Moth. Picture: Forestry Commission The nest of the Oak Processionary Moth. Picture: Forestry Commission

Both people and animals can be affected by touching the caterpillars, their nests, or if windblown hairs make contact with the skin.

The greatest risk period is between May and July, but the hairs from the caterpillar can be present on old nests, and could be blown or touched at any time of year.

Please consult your pharmacist, GP, NHS Direct or vet if you or your animal are exposed and suffer an allergic reaction to the hairs of this caterpillar.

The Forestry Commission is paying Advanced Tree Services to carry out two sprayings of trees infested by the moth at Danson Park, East Wickham Open Space, Monks Farm Allotment and Sidcup Place.

An oak processionary moth. Picture: Wiki Commons/Ben Sale An oak processionary moth. Picture: Wiki Commons/Ben Sale

The first treatment will start in mid-April and is expected to take two to three weeks, while the second will start at the end of May and take a similar time.

The spraying teams will work Monday to Friday in two eight-hour shifts: 6am-2pm and 2pm-10pm.

They will put signs up around the areas where they are working.

Throughout April, the council’s tree officers will be inspecting oak trees across the borough and if the insect is discovered during the treatment period any new locations will be added to the programme.

The council will be employing specialists to remove any nests that are found after the spray has taken place.

Further information is available on the council’s website at https://www.bexley.gov.uk/services/parks-and-open-spaces/oak-processionary-moth-opm-identified-within-london-borough-bexley.

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