Watch out for caterpillars on oak trees

OPM-nest-on-trunk,-very-flattened

Development of an OPM nest on the trunk of an oak tree

As you will probably know, there are a lot of oak trees on the Heath and these could be affected by the oak processionary moth (OPM) following an outbreak in Watford.

People are being advised not to touch the OPM caterpillars and nests, to keep animals away from the pests, and to report sightings to the Forestry Commission and the District Council.

OPM can affect trees, people and animals, and was first discovered in England in London in 2005. Tree and public health authorities in Hertfordshire have been preparing for the possibility of its spreading into the county.

The caterpillars shed thousands of their tiny hairs in the nests, and these can cause itchy skin rashes and eye irritations. In extremely rare cases, they can cause breathing difficulties in people and animals. The caterpillars eat oak leaves, leaving infested trees weakened and vulnerable to other threats.

Posted in Trees