Discovery of Oak Processionary Moths

Oak Processionary Moths have been found at Pangbourne Hill, Green Lane and Breedons Court

This is the first time it has been identified outside the London area, where it has been present since 2005. It is believed that the moth has been introduced from Southern Europe on contaminated plants. The caterpillars are found on oak trees in the late spring and early summer. At the caterpillar stage of this insect’s life cycle, people can develop skin itching and rashes should they come into contact with tiny hairs shed from the caterpillars’ bodies. Some people may also experience soreness to the eyes and throat or respiratory problems.

Those suffering the symptoms associated with these caterpillars, should contact NHS Direct or their GP.

Oak Processionary Moth

At the caterpillar stage, the infected tree should be sprayed using the pesticide Deltamethrin. After the caterpillars have pupated in the summer, the web-like nests may be removed from the tree and burned. This work must be carried out by trained and experienced contractors using the correct equipment for working at heights and full body personal protective equipment. A list of suitably qualified contractors is attached.

Response to this Outbreak
The Forestry Commission’s (FC) Plant Health Division is the body responsible for the enforcement or treatment of this pest. This initial outbreak in Pangbourne has been confined to privately owned garden trees. The FC has therefore issued Plant Health Orders to the relevant land owners in an attempt to eradicate the pest at this location. The Council’s Tree Officer is working alongside FC colleagues in monitoring this. Surveys will continue to assess the possible spread of this outbreak and its future treatment. Experience in London has however shown that this pest has tended to continue to spread despite considerable attempts to control it. Nevertheless, the Council’s current policy will remain to contain, control and hopefully eradicate this pest from Pangbroune. The possibility of this pest spreading should not however be ignored. In the event that the pest does spread then the Council will have to consider treatment of the pest on Council owned oak trees in high risk areas such as at school premises, trees that overhang gardens or trees next to children’s play areas in parks.

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