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Woking Oak Processionary Moth caterpillar sightings confirmed

Woking Oak Processionary Moth caterpillar sightings confirmed

Published by Josh Kerr at 6:20pm 23rd July 2019. (Updated at 1:45pm 24th July 2019)

There have been several confirmed sightings of Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars in parts of Woking.

Residents are being reminded to avoid all contact with this hazardous tree pest.

Oak Processionary Moths have been present in the UK since 2012 with infestations found in London and parts of the South East in recent years.

Nests are typically dome or teardrop-shaped, ranging in size – from a ping pong ball to as large as a rucksack.

They are white when fresh, but soon become discoloured and brown.

The caterpillars have black heads and bodies covered in long white hairs that contain proteins which can cause itchy rashes, eye, and throat irritations

Occasionally they can also cause breathing difficulties in people and pets, so should not be touched under any circumstances.

Between May and July is the greatest risk period is when the caterpillars emerge and feed before pupating into adult moths, but nests, even old ones, should not be touched at any time.

The caterpillars feed on oak leaves, which can leave the trees vulnerable to other pests and diseases and drought.

Cllr Kevin Davis, Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said:

“Officers have found infestations on several council sites across the borough, which we are dealing with in the correct manner to minimise harm to the public.

"The likelihood of there being nests on private land is high, which is why we are reminding residents what to look out for, and not to have any contact with them.

"All sightings of caterpillars and nests need to be reported to the Forestry Commission, which has a programme in place to tackle the pest.”

Do not touch or approach nests or caterpillars and do not try removing nests or caterpillars yourself.

All sightings need to be reported to the Forestry Commission and you will need to give a precise location as to where the infestation was sighted and if possible, provide a photo.

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