An infestation of caterpillars in a number of locations across the UK have made the headlines recently. News stories have reported Oak Processionary Moth infestations in Kew Gardens and Brown Tail Moth infestations in Canvey Island and Romney Marsh. In Bradford the Ermine moth has stripped 15 trees of all their leaves and left the locals terrified.
The spring has been unseasonable warm which has encouraged the caterpillars to emerge in their millions. The prickly armour on the caterpillars are a deterrent for many predators, including man, which has in part enabled the caterpillars to flourish. The hairs of the Oak Processionary Moth are toxic and can be a major irritant to the skin, so our advice is not touch it. If you spot a silken nest please call your local council.
The Brown Tail Moth caterpillars have been making life a misery for visitors to Romney Marsh in Kent and two people have been taken to hospital after experiencing severe reactions. Like the spiky Oak Processionary Moth (pictured right), the Brown Tail Moth caterpillars release hairs into the air which can cause skin irritation and breathing difficulties for asthma sufferers and people with diabetes.
The Ermine moth which has weaved nests over fences, bushes and trees in Shipley Hall Fields, Bradford poses no risk to public health, but its prolific horror movie style nests, as captured in this video by the BBC, have scared many locals away from visiting the park.
Have you spotted any caterpillars or nests? If you have any pictures we would love to see them and we’ll try and identify the species too.