To anyone has taken up gardening as a hobby, they will certainly know of garden pests; One relatively new to the UK, is the oak processionary moth. Since arriving in 2006, the moth has been wreaking havoc in oaks across the UK; the moth is not as much as a pest though, as its caterpillars.
My first encounter with these pesky caterpillars, came when my dad and I were hanging a swing on the large oak tree in our backyard. We noticed the silky mess of a nest, and soon identified it as such.
Oak Processionary larvae are covered in miniature hairs, which if touched, can cause serious reactions. Look out for the nests in June/July when the moths lay their eggs.
Once, my sister broke one of the nests with a stick, and the creatures grabbed on. Fortunately, none of the hairs fell on her, and she was fine.
The caterpillar hair can cause rash or skin irritation, trigger allergic reactions and even – if swallowed, cause breathing problems. In the case of finding a nest in your garden, or anywhere around you, do not approach them. Instead, contact the Tree Alert online portal. Alternatively, people can email [email protected] or call 0300 067 4442.
Once you have reported it, you may call any tree service, and they will come to incinerate the nests wearing special protective equipment.