Oak Processionary Moth: What Do You Need To Know?

With signs of spring starting to appear, it’s a good time to think about what you need to do to look after your oak trees as the weather starts to get warmer.

Last spring and summer there was an outbreak of oak processionary moth in parts of London, West Berkshire, Surrey and Hertfordshire, with the Forestry Commission noting that the treatment has the greatest chance of success if it targets the larvae while they are young.

This means anyone who has oak trees, particularly in the areas affected last year, should keep a close eye on their plants for any sign of this pest.

The first thing to know about this caterpillar is that it can pose a risk to human and animal health, as well as being bad for the oak trees it targets. The caterpillars are covered in tiny hairs that can irritate the skin, as well as potentially cause breathing difficulties. If you think you have an infestation of these caterpillars on a tree at your home, don’t go near it, just call the professionals.

With successful treatment, your oak tree should survive without any ill effects. The usual course of action is to apply an insecticide to the affected area. The sooner this is done in the caterpillar’s life cycle, the more effective it is. Caterpillars usually emerge in the spring, building their nests in early summer.

The caterpillars are typically found in large groups, and can often be seen moving around in long lines, nose to tail – which is where the ‘processionary’ part of their name comes from. If you spot any, make a note of the location and report this to the Forestry Commission.

If you need a tree surgeon in Richmond, or elsewhere in London, contact us today to find out about our services.