Toxic moths that cause itchy rashes and breathing difficulties sweep across UK

People in the UK have been warned to steer clear of toxic moths that can cause rashes and difficulties breathing.

Oak Processionary Moths are reportedly sweeping across the country, with the public urged to report the invasive species while they are still caterpillars.

The caterpillars have black heads and bodies and are covered in fur. Living and feasting on several species of oak trees, they impact negatively on tree growth.

READ MORE: Mysterious jelly-like 'aliens' that 'create clones of themselves' wash up on beach

Proteins in the fur can cause itchy rashes, itchy eyes and throat irritation. The pests can also cause breathing difficulties in people and pets.

The Oak Processionary Moth was first detected in Kew Gardens in south-west London in 2006 after they were imported on oak from Europe.

Earlier this month, the UK government published legislation to limit the spread of the moths ahead of the summer months.

The Forestry Commission said sightings of the toxic caterpillar have spread across counties in south-east England.

Experts say Surrey is the worst-affected county because it has the most woods in England.

The caterpillars can grow up to 2cm in length and their nests are dome-shaped, roughly the size of a tennis ball. Fresh nests are white and become brown soon after.

Andrew Hoppit, Oak Processionary Moth Project Manager, said: "Oak Processionary Moth is a tree pest which can have a negative impact on tree health, and which can cause itchy rashes, eye, and throat irritations, when in physical contact with humans and pets.

"While we understand the importance of professional operators being able to move large oak trees, it is vital that we have in place stringent biosecurity requirements to ensure a risk-based approach for moving these trees."

Professor Nicola Spence, UK Chief Plant Health Officer, said: "Healthy oak trees are a vital component of a biodiverse and thriving environmental landscape. They are Great Britain’s most important tree for species biodiversity, supporting over 2000 species of bird, mammal, fungi, invertebrate, bryophyte and lichen.

"This is why it is essential that to protect the health of our oak trees, we have regulations in place for the movement of large oak trees within the zones and boundaries designed to manage Oak Processionary Moth."

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the globe from the Daily Star, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.


  • Rogue rodeo bull storms into crowds as terrified adults 'flatten kids' to escape

  • Signs aliens 'have invaded Wales' after sheep found forensically mutilated 'from above'

  • Woman 'torn' by world's biggest tiger 'flying at her from above' during wee in bushes

Source: Read Full Article