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"Toxic caterpillars" spotted in Guildford and Woking

2 minute read
"Toxic caterpillars" spotted in Guildford and Woking

Published at 7:31pm 28th April 2018. (Updated at 11:26pm 28th April 2018)

'Toxic caterpillars' than can cause breathing difficulties and skin irritations have been spotted in Guildford and Woking.

The Forestry Commission has issued a health warning after an outbreak of oak processionary moths (OPM) was discovered earlier this month.

It is said to be affecting areas around London, including Kingston, Guildford and Woking, with Surrey residents warned to take care. 

Hairs on the caterpillars contain a substance than can cause itching skin rashes, eye irritation, sore throats or breathing difficulties - The Forestry Commission warns. 

The organisation is advising people not to touch the caterpillars or their nests. 

This week, they began treating trees that are previously known to have been infected using a biopesticide, the treatment is due to last until late May or early June. 

Residents in affected areas are advised to consult a pest control expert if they notice an infestation in their gardens, as well as reporting it to The Forestry Commission. 

Key features of OPM to look out for:

  • Most typically found in oak trees, or the ground surrounding oak trees
  • Long, white hairs
  • Build white nests on branches and trunks of oak trees
  • Move in nose-to-tail processions
  • Often form arrow-headed processions, with rows of several caterpillars

For more information on how to spot the creatures, and what to do if you discover an infestation, visit The Forestry Commission's website here.

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