Release Date: 03/05/2012
Richmond Council has again started work on it's annual programme to prevent the spread of a moth in south-west London, which damages trees and is a potential health hazard.
As well as damaging trees, the caterpillars can pose a risk to human and animal health. The tiny hairs from the caterpillar can be blown in the wind and can lead to itching skin and, less commonly, sore throats and eye problems. People are warned not to handle the creatures, or remove or disturb the nests as the hairs contain a toxin which causes allergy-like symptoms.
As part of the preventative action being taken by Richmond Council, oak trees across the borough are being examined and specialist exotic pest controllers have undertaken spraying work in an effort to destroy the larvae of the moths. Residents are also urged to report any sightings of the moth on private land.
Cllr Virginia Morris, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said:
“These pests have been an unwelcome visitor each summer for several years. They’re a real nuisance and although we can’t eradicate them completely, we are working extremely hard, as we do every year, to destroy them.
We have launched our spraying programme at the earliest possible stage as a precautionary and preventative measure. The Council’s All in One survey showed the majority of residents love visiting our parks. We’re determined not to let these insects spoil anyone’s enjoyment.”
You are advised not to touch the caterpillar, a nest or an empty nest. If you think you may have been exposed and have an itching skin rash and/or conjunctivitis or other symptoms, contact your GP or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
If you think you have seen the caterpillars or one of their nests, please contact Richmond Council on 0845 612 2660 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org