Residents are being advised to be vigilant after the discovery of Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillars elsewhere in Surrey
The caterpillars cause significant damage to oak trees by consuming their foliage and can also pose a health risk to people and animals. Residents are strongly advised not to touch the caterpillars or interfere with their nests as their microscopic hairs contain a toxin that is known to cause itchy skin rashes, itchy eyes and a sore throat.
As the name suggests, they move in nose-to-tail processions along oak trees or on the ground and often cluster together. They build white, silken webbing trails and nests – usually dome or teardrop-shaped – on tree trunks and branches rather than amongst the leaves.
Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing Development, said: “We’d like to reassure residents that whilst there have been no reported cases of oak processionary moth caterpillars within the Borough, we are aware of cases elsewhere in Surrey.
“We are currently working with the Forestry Commission and landowners to monitor the situation and ask that local people be vigilant. Please don’t touch or try to remove the caterpillars or their nests. Instead, please report any suspected sightings without hesitation to the Forestry Commission or Woking Borough Council.”