Work begins to destroy Oak Processionary Moth nests at Hollow Pond

Spraying to destroy two Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) nests found at Hollow Pond begins today (8 June).

Forestry Commission inspectors working with Epping Forest Officers identified the nests at the site earlier last week.

The nests and the surrounding trees within a 50 metre area will be sprayed with a natural pesticide which will control any caterpillar larvae that may be present. This treatment involves a natural agent specific to caterpillars and has minimal effects on other species and is not known to harm people, pets, livestock or other animals.

OPM is an invasive species, native of southern Europe, where local environmental factors and predators keep its populations in check. Aided by the trade in live plants, it has become established as far north as the Netherlands and northern Germany. It was thought to have been first accidentally introduced to Britain in 2006.

Philip Woodhouse, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest Management Committee said:

“OPM caterpillars damage oak trees by feeding on the leaves. In large numbers they can strip whole trees bare, weakening the trees and making them vulnerable to other threats such as drought and disease.

“We are working closely with the Forestry Commission and specialist contractors who will be undertaking a targeted treatment to control the caterpillars. This will remove the pest from the site and ensure that we protect other trees.

“It is unlikely that the public will come into contact with any caterpillars. However if any are seen we are asking them to alert Epping Forest staff on 0208 532 1010 and to report it to the Forestry Commission at www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert.”

OPM caterpillars are most easily recognised by their distinctive habit of moving about in late spring and early summer in nose-to-tail processions, from which they derive their name, and the fact that they almost exclusively live in and feed on oak trees.

They have long hairs and build white, silken webbing nests on the trunks and branches of oak trees. They leave similar trails on the trunks and branches in early summer and they feed in clusters.

The caterpillars have tiny hairs which can cause skin and eye irritations and sore throats and breathing difficulties in people and animals who come into contact with them. Public Health England guidance advises the public to call NHS111 or see a doctor if you think you or someone you care for has had a serious allergic reaction due to contact with the caterpillars. For more information go to the Forestry Commission website, www.forestry.gov.uk/opm.

Epping Forest is London and Essex’s largest green space, attracting over 4.5 million visits every year. It has over 1 million trees, some of which are up to 1,000 years old – including 50,000 ancient pollards of Beech, Hornbeam and Oak. The ancient woodland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

The City of London Corporation manages around 11,000 acres of green spaces in and around London and the south-east with a large team of professional staff. We work closely with partner organisations like the Forestry Commission to ensure that we do the best job we can for our sites.


Notes to editors 

Media contacts:

Carl Locsin, Media Officer, City of London Corporation

T 020 7332 3654 / M 0738 862 229

E carl.locsin@cityoflondon.gov.uk

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation provides local government and policing services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain, the 'Square Mile'. In addition, the City Corporation has three roles:

We support London’s communities by working in partnership with neighbouring boroughs on economic regeneration, education and skills projects. In addition, the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust makes grants of around £20 million annually to charitable projects across London and we also support education with three independent schools, three City Academies, a primary school and the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

We also help look after key London’s heritage and green spaces including Tower Bridge, Museum of London, Barbican Arts Centre, City gardens, Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches, and important ‘commons’ in south London.

We also support and promote the ‘City’ as a world-leading financial and business hub, with outward and inward business delegations, high-profile civic events and research-driven policies all reflecting a long-term approach.

See www.cityoflondon.gov.uk for more details.