Spraying will start later this month in the London Borough of Bexley to combat Oak Processionary Moths. Which were first found on trees in several of Bexley’s highways, parks and open spaces in 2018.
The Forestry Commission is paying ‘Bartletts Tree Experts’ to carry out a two-phased spraying of trees in the borough that are infested by the caterpillars. This will happen at locations identified by the Forestry Commission. The first treatment will start at the end of April and is expected to take 2–4 weeks. The second phase will start two weeks after the completion of the first.
Throughout April the Council’s Tree Officers will be inspecting oak trees across the Borough. If the insect is discovered during the treatment period, any new locations will be added to the programme.
The Council will be employing specialists to remove any nests that are found after the spray has taken place.
The Moth is a non-native insect, originally discovered in London 12 years ago. It has spread outwards and has been found in the neighbouring boroughs of Bromley and Greenwich for several years. Its caterpillars primarily live and feed on Oak leaves, but they can also be found on the ground around infected trees.
While the adult moths are harmless, the hairs of their caterpillars contain a strong irritant. Contact with these hairs can cause severe irritation, with skin rashes and, less commonly, sore throats, breathing difficulties and eye problems.
Both people and animals can be affected by touching the caterpillars, their nests, or if windblown hairs make contact with the skin. The greatest risk period is between May and July. But, the hairs from the caterpillar can be present on old nests, and could be blown or touched at any time of year.