Londoners have been warned to look out for nests of poisonous caterpillars which might trigger itchy rashes, respiration difficulties and vomiting.
The larval type of the Oak Processionary Moth, a overseas species launched to the UK by chance, are normally discovered on oak timber and are recognisable by their lengthy white hairs.
The caterpillars journey in nose-to-tail processions and create ’rounded and generally hammock-like’ nests which appear like a ‘greyish bundle of cotton’.
They develop tiny hairs containing a stinging toxin that are shed when the insect is threatened and may be carried by the wind.
In addition to posing a hazard to kids, pets and anybody with bronchial asthma, the caterpillars can decimate timber by stripping them of their leaves, leaving them weak to different pests, illnesses and drought.
Hounslow Council have been eradicating nests in components of the borough and plans to step up efforts as nesting intensifies in July.
Officers urged individuals to keep away from infested oak timber and report any nests sighted.
The Forestry Fee says individuals also needs to ‘keep away from or minimise time spent underneath or downwind of infested oak timber, particularly on windy days in summer season’.
The species, native to southern Europe, was first found in Britain in west London in 2006.
It’s believed to have been carried over the Channel on oak timber imported for a improvement website in Richmond.
Oak processionaries have now unfold to all 33 London boroughs and are advancing into surrounding areas, with Elmbridge Borough Council in Surrey warning that the moth is ‘spreading quickly within the South East’.
The federal government has spent tens of tens of millions of kilos attempting to regulate the pest, which triggered adjustments to the legislation on how timber may be imported.
The best threat to the general public is from Might to July when the eggs hatch into caterpillars which feed earlier than turning into grownup moths.
Cllr Samia Chaudhary of Hounslow Council mentioned: ‘I do know a lot of you’ll be having fun with spending time within the borough’s stunning parks and different inexperienced areas with oak timber over the summer season, however I urge you to not method these caterpillars or their nests if you happen to spot them and to forestall kids from doing the identical.
‘It’s additionally advisable to minimise spending time underneath or within the downwind of any infested oak tree, particularly on windy days through the summer season.
‘It’s vital that residents shouldn’t try to take away the nests themselves.’
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