Oak Processionary Moth should not be in the Chichester District, so it is really important to be aware of what it looks like, and if you spot it, report it (details below). For this pest, in our area, DEFRA’s Animal and Plant Health Agency and professional colleagues will want to eradicate any nests that are found.
OPM is a tree pest because its caterpillars feed on the leaves of several species of oak trees. Large populations can strip whole oak trees bare, leaving them more vulnerable to other pests and diseases, and to other stresses, such as drought.
OPM also poses a risk to human and animal health. Caterpillars shed tiny hairs which can cause itching, skin rashes and eye irritations, as well as sore throats and breathing difficulties in people and animals. The risk of exposure to these hairs is highest in May and June.
As Oak Processionary Moth season begins, the Government (Forestry Commission) reminds people to be aware of the pest and urges us to report sightings. This enables the pest to be identified, tracked and traced(!) in an effort to keep it from spreading and perhaps even to eradicate it.
The movement of oak trees is highly controlled to prevent transfer of OPM to areas not already infected.
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