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RHS Spreading the Word on Dangers of Oak-Eating Moth

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

With summer nearly upon us, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is now fully involved in their annual flower show schedule. Among their most famous shows is the Chelsea Flower Show held in London. The RHS shows provide amateur horticulturists lots of opportunities to see new things, learn new gardening methods, and discover how to protect against certain pests.

oak eating moth

This year, the RHS is using the show schedule to spread the word about a dangerous pest that is destroying oak trees around the country. The pest is known as the oak processionary moth (OPM) – an irritating little creature on multiple levels. It is believed the moth came to the UK in 2006 by way of imported oak trees from elsewhere in Europe. The damage it causes does not really come from mature moths though – it comes from their caterpillars.

The OPM caterpillar will feed on the foliage of oak trees until they are mature enough to begin metamorphosis. The damage caused by the feeding leaves the trees in a weakened state that makes them more susceptible to disease and severe weather. When the caterpillars finally do cocoon, they create massive silk-like structures covering large portions of the tree trunk.

The damage done by OPM caterpillars is bad enough for wooded areas with dense oak populations. However, the trees are not the only things suffering. Mature caterpillars are covered with thousands of tiny, needle-like hairs that are easily dislodged and carried with the wind. The hairs can cause severe skin rashes, eye irritation, and breathing problems when human beings come in contact with them. Certain kinds of animals are also adversely affected.

From Berkshire to Cheshire and Pembrokeshire to Norfolk, the RHS wants people to learn more about the OPM and what it is capable of. It recommends purchasing oak trees only from trusted sources within the UK. Any trees purchased from the continent should come with a plant passport showing these are not affected.

Already Affected Oak Trees

The OPM caterpillar is easier to spot than some others are because groups tend to occur on tree trunks in very large numbers. They are black in colour, with thousands of white hairs protruding from orange spots on the sides of their bodies. In the right light, they might also look slightly blue-grey.

Experts say you should not approach an affected oak tree in order to prevent physical harm. Instead, call a pest-control specialist capable of dealing with the infestation effectively. A professional pest-control company will know how to deal with the problem in a way that keeps you safe and prevents the spread of the pest in your local area.

Berkshire based Pest Control Services are able to handle the OPM pest if you find it in your garden. We are a Newbury-based business covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire, and Hampshire. Our experienced and knowledgeable technicians can also help you deal with fleas, wasps, bees, hornets, bed bugs, flies and moths and a variety of other common pests. For a full range of the pest control services we provide please check our pests page here. We offer cost-effective, same-day service in all of the areas we cover.

1. Blackmore Vale Magazine –

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