Dealing with oak processionary moths in public spaces

Dealing with oak processionary moths in public spaces

Dealing with oak processionary moths in public spaces

Oak processionary moths (OPM) have gained attention in recent years due to their increasing presence in oak trees across various regions. Not only are these creatures a nuisance, but they also pose a significant threat to both humans and the environment. In this blog post, we will delve into the life cycle of oak processionary moths, where they live, and the dangers they present.

Oak processionary moths and their habitat

Oak processionary moths are native to parts of Continental Europe and Asia but have spread to other regions, the UK in particular, due to globalization and the trade of oak trees. They live primarily in oak trees, hence the name, where they feed on the leaves and create nests made of silk and poisonous hairs. 

These nests are a characteristic sign of oak processionary moth infestation and should be approached with caution.

The life cycle of oak processionary moths

Oak processionary moths are named for their distinctive behaviour of moving in long, nose-to-tail processions while searching for food. The life cycle of these moths typically begins in summer when adult female moths lay their eggs in clusters on the branches of oak trees. These eggs hatch into larvae the following spring – the most destructive stage of the moth's life cycle.

These larvae feed on oak leaves, creating unsightly defoliation on the trees and as they grow, they develop distinctive poisonous hairs that can cause severe allergic reactions in humans and animals. The larvae eventually pupate and emerge as adult moths, starting the cycle anew by laying new eggs.

The dangers posed by oak processionary moths

The oak processionary moth may be small, but its impact can be devastating, the main danger coming from their toxic hairs. These microscopic, barbed hairs can cause severe skin irritation, respiratory issues, and allergic reactions in humans. Contact with the hairs can lead to symptoms such as itching, rashes, eye irritation, and difficulty breathing.

They can also strip the trees they’re living on, meaning they’re not only unsightly, deterring visitors from parks or open spaces, but it also leaves the trees open to other threats.

The greatest threat from these creatures is during Summer, however, because the nests also contain thousands of barbed hairs shed by the larvae and caterpillars, these should also be avoided.

Dealing with oak processionary moths

Many current methods for managing the threat that oak processionary moths and caterpillars pose can be invasive, using chemicals and sprays and meaning large public areas need to be closed for periods of time.

If you're looking for a fast, simple, and environmentally friendly solution, be sure to check out our new ForestryVac®, designed specifically for dealing with oak processionary moths. 

The ForestryVac tackles issues caused by OPMs in an environmentally friendly way without harmful chemicals or closing large public areas for spraying, and all from the safety of the ground. Powered by an onboard Honda engine and mounted on a steel trolley with all-terrain lockable wheels, the ForestryVac makes light work of combatting these critters out in the field where mains power is not an option.