Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Outbreak of toxic caterpillars in Pangbourne

The oak processionary moth caterpillar

Residents have had some bad days due to a toxic caterpillar in Pangbourne and parts of west London.The Forestry Commission came out with a caution not to touch the caterpillars of the oak processionary moth.

Their momentous hairs contain a toxin that can score you some itchy skin rashes as well as eye and throat irritations.

The Forestry Commission's Stewart Snape stepped up to the plate to say that residents can report sightings but that the caterpillars should only be vanquished by pest control operators.

Officials are now recording outbreaks of the moth in Pangbourne in West Berkshire and the London boroughs of Ealing, Brent, Hounslow, Richmond upon Thames and Hammersmith Fulham.

Health Protection Agency director Dr Brian McCloskey said: "We strongly advise people not to touch or approach the caterpillars or their nests because of the health risks caused by the toxin-containing hairs.

"Pets can also be hit by these opponents and should be kept away as well".

He added that anyone who experiences an itchy skin rash or other allergic symptoms after being near oak trees in these areas should not balk at consulting their GP.

As a caterpillar, each oak processionary moth has around 62,000 hairs, which they can eject.

Hairs that fall to the ground can be active for up to five years.

The moths only live for two to three days in July or August before their final out.

via BBC News - Outbreak of toxic caterpillars in Pangbourne.

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