Jumpers and St Catherine's Hill Community Information

The Oak Processionary moth

Most Unwanted

The Oak Processionary moth falls into the 'Most Unwanted' category as defined by the Forestry Commission. It is presently found South of London and in an area of Berkshire. We must all be vigilant to it possibly spreading into Dorset, particularly owing to the large number of oaks we enjoy in our locality.

This moth poses a very real threat not just to the oaks themselves, which can be left stripped bare, but also to humans and animals due to the intensely irritant hairs covering the caterpillar which can disperse in the wind, and cause very serious skin rashes and breathing difficulties.

What To Look For

  • Newly Hatched caterpillars have a brown body and a black head. As they grow they lighten in colour

  • The caterpillars build nests (8cm or larger) that form white silken clumps visible on oak tree trunks from April to June, and leave white trails up stems

  • They also show a distinctive habit of moving about in late spring and early summer in head-to tail processions, hence the name

  • http://www.opalexplorenature.org/oak-processionary-moth shows the caterpillars and a nest, together with a skin rash

What To Do

There is currently an open access project for the public to get involved in spotting and reporting some of the new and emerging tree pests and diseases. The survey can be accessed online and is designed to get as many people as possible interested in protecting our native trees from invasive organisms

The website is http://www.opalexplorenature.org/Treesurvey

This article was submitted by a Christchurch Resident