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Gobions Wood health warning for people and animals

Toxic caterpillar can cause skin, eye, and throat irritation


It’s thought the oak processionary moth could be in Gobions Wood Image courtesy of the Woodland Trust
It’s thought the oak processionary moth could be in Gobions Wood
Image courtesy of the Woodland Trust

Notices have been put up at some entrances to Gobions Wood reserve warning people to keep away from a certain caterpillar that, if touched, can cause “unpleasant skin, eye and throat irritations”.

A sign, produced by the Forestry Commission England and Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) asks for the public’s help in controlling what is described as a pest.

According to the sign, “caterpillars of the oak processionary moth could be damaging oak trees in the area”.

Warning sign at entrance to Gobions Wood
Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The tiny hairs covering the oak processionary caterpillar contain a toxin which can lead to itching skin lesions and, less commonly, sore throats, breathing difficulties or eye problems. This can happen if people touch the caterpillars or their nests, or if the hairs are blown into contact with humans or animals by the wind.

The public is asked to contact HMWT if they see processions or clusters of the caterpillars in oak trees; or silken webbing trails or nests on the trunks or branches of oak trees.

The oak processionary moth caterpillar

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

Visitors to Gobions Wood should keep away from the caterpillars and nests and are asked to call NHS 111 or see a doctor if they develop serious allergic reactions.

In April, North Mymms Parish Council (NMPC) cordoned off an area of a public park off Dellsome Lane, Welham Green after the discovery of the oak processionary moth caterpillar.

If you think you have seen the oak processionary moth caterpillar please contact HMWT on 01727-858901 or email at info@hmwt.org.





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