Oak Processionary Moth

Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) have spread significantly in the North of the district this summer. It is not safe to try and remove the caterpillar nests yourself, instead, please report the location of the insect as soon as possible. If you touch or get too close to a nest, the effects can vary from itching and severe rashes to, in the worst cases, breathing difficulties as a result of an allergic reaction.

What do the nests and caterpillars look like

Nests are typically dome or teardrop-shaped and white when fresh, though it quickly changes to brown. The caterpillars have black heads and bodies covered in long white hairs. In large populations, the caterpillars can devastate the foliage of oak trees, leaving the tree vulnerable to other threats. 

If I have OPM on my Oak trees, what should I do?

• if they are located on privately owned land

Report them to the Forestry Commission

Alternatively, call 0300 067 442 or email opm@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

• if they are located on a Council-owned tree, report it by calling 01306 885001 or by email parks@molevalley.gov.uk

Should I try to remove the nest/s myself?

Under no circumstances try to remove the nest/s yourself. Contact a reputable contractor to arrange removal of the nest/s. The Arboricultural Association has a list of approved contractors that will undertake this work. You can be assured that all removed nests of OPM larvae and pupae will be immediately placed in a sealed container and destroyed in a licensed incinerator, in accordance with the Forestry Commission’s Statutory Plant Health Order 2005 (Measures to prevent the spread of OPM).

What could happen if I try to remove the nest/s myself?

The hairs of the insect can cause health implications to humans and animals upon close contact. Public Health England has advised that a minority of the population (5-7%) is at risk of developing afflictions, ranging from minor skin complaints to anaphylaxis. This represents approximately the same percentage of people that suffer symptoms from bee and wasp stings. Nests should only be removed, transported and disposed of by licensed operators who will wear specialist protective clothing and use specialist equipment.

Will OPM cause harm to my dog or pet?

Neither you nor your dog or pet should get too close or come into direct contact with OPM. If your animal does touch a caterpillar or nest, there is advice in terms of what symptoms you should look out for and what action you should take on the Blue Cross for pets website

Will Mole Valley District Council pay for the removal of nest/s on my trees?

We cannot fund the removal of nest/s from private land, but we can advise you of who to contact. You may find it beneficial to contact other affected neighbours and/or owners and work together to cover the cost.