Toxic Caterpillars Will Invade London This Spring, Authorities Warn

  • Toxic Caterpillars Will Invade London This Spring, Authorities Warn

Toxic Caterpillars Will Invade London This Spring, Authorities Warn

The larval stage of the oak processionary moth (OPM) - those cute fuzzy little caterpillars we delight in seeing amble their way across our palm on a sunny day - are reported to be causing fevers, as well as eye and throat irritation, according to a UK Forestry Commission statement.

If touched, a protein in the caterpillars' tiny hairs can also cause skin rashes to form on the arms and the throat.

A health warning has been issued by the Forestry Commission over the oak processionary moth, which has been making people sick throughout London.

At best, you can get contact dermatitis. "The airborne hairs set up a whole different ballgame".

Caterpillars are one of the cuter insects out there, but there's a particular type of them wreaking havoc across the south of England.

Because the moths' natural predators are not present in the United Kingdom, the moths run rampant; and, in spite of Forestry Commission efforts to halt the epidemic, outbreaks have recurred in many years since 2006.

The commission will be treating trees until about mid-June, but it's still important to be wary.

The moths, which are native to southern Europe, were accidentally introduced to the United Kingdom in 2005.

So far, the caterpillar has not reached the United States. Oak trees all along the eastern seaboard would provide the toxic caterpillar with an abundant food source and breeding ground. "We have agriculture inspectors going around, but half of the new things in the USA are found by the public who send it in".

The officials have discovered toxic Caterpillar in the parks, gardens and countryside. Once they become adult moths in July or August, they generally only live for three days.

Other pieces of advice include training children and pets to not approach the caterpillars, keeping livestock a safe distance from the trees, and seeing a health professional if you experience any symptoms.