OAK PROCESSIONARY MOTH REMOVAL 

WHAT IS OAK PROCESSIONARY MOTH? 

Oak Processionary Moth or OPM for short are found on Oak trees and they feed on the leaves and unless kept under control can strip the tree of foliage. They caterpillar have tiny hairs which have a protein called Thaumetopoein, which is extremely irritating if you come into contact with them. The problem affects animals and people usually causing skin and eye irritation & breathing difficulties. 
 
The caterpillars tend to feed in the foliage of Oak trees from mid April to mid June, before they descend to the lower branches in a group formation, like an army march, to form their silky nests. These can sometimes be difficult to spot, as they camouflage into the trees bark. 
 
The invasive OPM was first identified in 2006 on landscaping sites in West London, in the London Boroughs of Richmond and Ealing, on semi-mature oak trees imported from Europe and planted in 2005/6. Since then, Surrey, the most wooded county in England has been hit the hardest and numbers of sitings have increased annually.  

HOW DO YOU REMOVE THEM?  

The most effective time to remove the OPM, is when the caterpillar have settled into their nests, as they are not likely to be out roaming in the foliage. We work towards the forestry commissions guidelines when removing nests and we do so by hand - very covered up hands!! We wear complete body protection, as it's very important to have every inch of skin covered to avoid coming into contact with the hairs. We double bag the nest and tape them shut. These nests are considered hazardous waste, so we dispose of them and all the PPE used with a hazardous waste transfer station. 
 
We do not use pesticides to avoid harming any other wildlife. Currently, there aren't thought to be any natural predators that will make a significant reduction to the numbers, but research is still ongoing. 
 
If you need an OPM nest removed, contact us for our rate. We charge an hourly rate, which includes removal and disposal.  

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SPOT A NEST? 

We suggest the first thing you do is stay well away from the tree itself. The nests and caterpillar may be high up in the tree, but the caterpillar can still be further down the tree or on the ground below and the hairs can blow down in the wind. If the tree is in your garden, make sure everyone who you live with is aware and keep children and pets away. If you do not own the tree, it's worth letting the owner know. If the tree is on council owned land, report to them as soon as possible, especially if this is in a public place. 
 
You should also report it via the Forestry Commission website, even if the tree is not your responsibility.  
 
If you are unable to use the form, please use one of the following contact options 
E-mail: opm@forestry.gsi.gov.uk (be sure to include photos) 
Phone: 0300 067 4442 
 
If you need an OPM nest removed, contact us for our rates. We charge an hourly rate, which includes safe and responsible removal and disposal.  
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