Threats to Dulwich Trees - Oak Processionary Moth
by Tony George
The oak processionary moth is a native of mainland Europe and has now been located in various London boroughs of which Lewisham is the closest. It has a wingspan between 25 and 35mm and a pattern of brown, tan and white which makes it difficult to see against oak bark. The caterpillars feed on oak leaves and produce silken nests on the trunks and branches of affected trees. Apart from the damage to the tree it can also be a risk to human and animal health.
The caterpillars have tiny hairs which can be blown in the wind causing skin irritation as well as sore throats and eye problems in more extreme cases; it is therefore essential that if the caterpillars are located the local authority or forest research are contacted. Certainly you are advised not to touch the caterpillars or their nests as the necessary treatment requires specialist expertise.