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Dangerous caterpillars removed from Welham Green tree

Parish council issues all clear, but residents should still check


Warning sign on the entrance gate to the play area Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Warning sign were put up at the entrance gate to the play area
Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
A nest of oak processionary moth (OPM) caterpillars has been removed from an oak tree in a Welham Green park. The caterpillars are a hazard to humans and animals causing rashes along with eye and throat irritation. They can also damage oak trees by stripping them of their leaves.

The nest was removed from the tree in the Dellsome Lane play area on Wednesday morning 19 June and the tree climbed and inspected to check that there were no other nests higher up.

NMPC says no further action will be required this year but the Forestry Commission will spray the tree twice next year and the year after to ensure there is no reoccurrence.

North Mymms Parish Council (NMPC) circulated a poster produced by the Forestry Commission urging local residents to report any other sightings of the caterpillars.

That warning is still active and the local authority would like to hear from anyone who thinks they might have OPM caterpillars in their gardens.


The warning sign put out by NMPC Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The warning sign circulated by North Mymms Parish Council
Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


Danger to human health


The oak processionary moth
Image by Luc Hoogensteireleased under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 

According to the Forestry Commission the tiny hairs on the caterpillars of the OPM can be blown by the wind and if they come in contact with the skin they can cause itchy skin rashes, eye and throat irritations and, occasionally, breathing difficulties in people and animals.

The caterpillars eat oak leaves, and large numbers can strip whole trees bare, leaving them vulnerable to other threats.

The Forestry Commission says it’s working with local authorities and landowners to try to  control the threat and has put out a leaflet (embedded below) describing how to identify the caterpillar, what to do when you spot them, and how to report the findings.

The commission has a Tree Alert site for posting sightings of the OPM. The government has also appealed for members of the public to report any sightings.



Last year Forest Research put out a pamphlet warning of the thread of the OPM.



Health information


If you think you have been affected by coming into contact with one of the caterpillars information is available from NHS Choices.




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