Brent residents issued with dangerous caterpillar warning

Warning being issued over caterpillars (pic credit: Martin Townsend/Forestry Commission)

Warning being issued over caterpillars (pic credit: Martin Townsend/Forestry Commission) - Credit: Archant

The larval of the oak processionary moth poses health risk to humans and animals

Residents are being warned about a dangerous caterpillar which could be emerging from oak trees in the borough.

The Forestry Commission (FC) is urging people to report any sightings of the caterpillars of the oak processionary moth which pose a risk to humans and animals.

The caterpillars, which were accidentally introduced to Britain from Europe in 2006, have tiny, toxin-containing hairs which, on contact, can cause itchy skin rashes and irritation to the eye and throat.

In addition their hairs can be blown in the wind, and left in the silken, web-like nests which the caterpillars build in oak trees.

The causes damage to Oak trees by leaving them severely defoliated and vulnerable to other pests, diseases or drought.

The caterpillars pose the greatest risk from May to July, although nests should not be approached at any time.

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They have been reported sightings in parts of London, including Brent, and Berkshire.

Ian Gambles, director of FC England, said: “We need, and welcome, reports of the caterpillars or their nests from the public or others, such as gardeners and tree surgeons, who are out and about in areas with oak trees.

“However, the public should not try to remove the caterpillars or nests themselves. This task needs to be carefully timed to be most effective, and is best done by specially trained and equipped operators.”

Any sightings should be reported to FC by visiting or Brent Council.