Saturday, 15 December, 2018

In London, bred caterpillars, causing asthma and vomiting

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Oak processionary moth larvae are nearly always found in the spring and early summer in or around oak trees.

Londoners are being warned to look out for white-haired caterpillars.

The London Forestry Commission has announced that oak processionary moth or OPM caterpillars were spotted emerging from their egg plaques last April 16.

The officials have discovered toxic Caterpillar in the parks, gardens and countryside. It's also around the time when the caterpillars descend from the trees and will likely be large enough to be seen.

"We advise people not to pick up the caterpillar or pick up the nest", a spokesman for Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said, adding that there have been no reports of serious illness because of contact with the caterpillar.

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The caterpillars are covered with tiny white hairs that contain a protein which causes skin rashes, eye and throat irritations, dizziness and even respiratory problems in some people. These caterpillars also shed their hair in the nest as a defense mechanism that is why nest should not be touched with the naked hands or without any protective clothing.

Gardeners and others who come in contact with the caterpillars have been put at risk according to reports, with one worker said to have been made "violently sick" after clearing out an allotment which contained an oak tree that was infested with OPM larvae.

The Forestry Commission has urged residents not to approach the caterpillars or their nests, or to let animals do so.

It's the hairs that do the damage, and these can even be come into contact with through the wind. As a result, the oak trees are left bare, more vulnerable to attacks, and unable to withstand extreme stresses such as floods and droughts.

Forestry officials issuing warnings about species of moth capable of causing vomiting and anaphylactic shock. These creatures live nearly exclusively in oak trees and often gather together in clusters.