Toxic hairy caterpillar warning issued

Already spotted in Hertfordshire


Photograph of a caterpillar of the oak processionary moth. Image by Wim Rubers released under Creative Commons BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
A caterpillar of the oak processionary moth.
Image by Wim Rubers released under Creative Commons BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


The Forestry Commission is warning that the oak processionary moth has been spotted in the South-East. They say the larvae, or caterpillars, of the moth can affect the health of oak trees, people and animals.

The Commission says a protein in the caterpillars' tiny hairs can cause skin and eye irritations, sore throats and breathing difficulties in people and animals who come into contact with them.

The oak processionary moth  Image by Ben Sale released under Creative Commons BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The oak processionary moth
Image by Ben Sale released under Creative Commons BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons


The BBC says coming into contact with the caterpillars can "cause asthma attacks, vomiting and skin rashes". Below are embedded reports from the BBC, The Guardian, and The Forestry Commission. Below the reports is a PDF issued by the Forestry Commission.

Londoners warned over toxic caterpillars

Health warning as toxic hairy caterpillars take over woodlands

Oak Processionary Moth - Tree pests and diseases






Comments welcome


Have you seen the larvae, caterpillar, or moth locally? Any sightings should be reported to the Forestry Commission. Please also add any comments/sightings in the comment box below.


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