What to do if you see these hazardous caterpillars in a park

A cluster of oak processionary moths

A cluster of oak processionary moths - Credit: Forestry Commission

Work is planned at Stanborough Park to tackle Oak Processionary Moths (OPM) - which can be dangerous for humans.

OPM caterpillars are a health hazard to trees, animals, and people, the pests can cause itchy rashes, eye and throat irritations, and should not be touched under any circumstances.

Specialist treatment work will start soon to remove OPM caterpillars from a small number of trees on the north side of Stanborough Park.

Park managers, GLL, are arranging for Forestry Commission contractors to treat the infected trees twice in the coming weeks.

This work has minimal effect on other species and will not disrupt park facilities or users.

Durk Reyner, head of environment at WHBC, said: “We are urging the public to remain vigilant and report any sightings to the Forestry Commission via its Tree Alert online portal. Reports help inform its ongoing surveillance and treatment programme and enables the Forestry Commission to slow the spread of this pest.”

Oak Processionary Moth was first identified in London in 2006 and has since spread to some surrounding counties.

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Nests are typically dome or teardrop-shaped, averaging the size of a tennis ball. They are white when fresh, but soon become discoloured and brown. The caterpillars have black heads and bodies covered in long white hairs and crawl in large groups, nose-to-tail, forming long lines on or around oak trees.

The public can also report sightings by email opm@forestrycommission.gov.uk or over the phone: 0300 067 4442.

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