The recent actions of an eagle-eyed Wealden resident have helped to contain an outbreak of a serious tree pest in the Hailsham area.
The Oak Processionary Moth caterpillar can strip whole oak trees of leaves, leaving them bare and vulnerable to other pests, diseases and stresses. The local resident, who also happens to be a tree surgeon, immediately notified the Forestry Commission who were able to locate the source of the outbreak and chemically treat it and all other oak trees within a 250 metre radius.
They have since reported that no further outbreaks have been detected and that the pest has successfully been contained on this occasion.
For more details about how to identify the pest and how to distinguish it from our harmless native caterpillars please visit the Forest Research website . Any future sightings should be immediately reported to the Forestry Commission using its TreeAlert link.
Damage to London oak tree caused by Oak Processionary Moth.
The hairs of the older caterpillars can cause itching skin rashes and eye irritations, as well as sore throats and breathing difficulties in people and animals. The risk of exposure to these hairs is highest in May and June and the caterpillars can shed the hairs when threatened or disturbed.
Irritation caused by the hairs of the Oak Processionary Moth.
Residents should not attempt to remove caterpillars themselves and this should always be carried out by a specialist contractor. On this occasion the speedy actions of a local resident and the follow up action by the Forestry Commission have contained the pest and prevented further spread.
Story and Images – Wealden DC