Oak processionary moth

Risks of OPM

Do not touch or get close to the caterpillars or nests.

OPM caterpillars and nests affect the health of people and animals, as they contain hairs which can cause itchy rashes, eye and throat irritations and occasionally breathing difficulties in both people and animals.

In rare cases the hairs may cause an allergic reaction. You can become sensitised by repeated exposure to the hairs, worsening your symptoms.

People or animals can come into contact with OPM hairs if they touch OPM caterpillars and their nests by brushing past an infested oak tree or are near infested trees as hairs can be blown about in the wind.

Animals can get hairs on their paws, and hairs can also get into their mouth and nose by sniffing, licking and picking up caterpillars or nests causing irritation. Livestock and horses can come into contact with hairs on the grass or other plants they eat, and by grazing close to a fallen nest.

The greatest risk is between May to July when the caterpillars are active. Although the risk is possible at any time of year due to hairs from old nests.

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