Oak processionary moth infestation treated in Epping Forest

The City of London Corporation, which owns Epping Forest, said it has destroyed two oak processionary moth (OPM) nests found at Hollow Pond to the south of the linear ancient woodland.

Image: Kleuske (CC-licensed)
Image: Kleuske (CC-licensed)

Forestry Commission inspectors working with Epping Forest officers identified the nests two weeks ago.

The City of London Corporation said the nests and the surrounding trees within a 50m area have since been sprayed with a natural pesticide specific to the caterpillars. OPM can cause skin and eye irritations and sore throats and breathing difficulties in people and animals.

Philip Woodhouse, chairman of the Corporation’s Epping Forest Management Committee said: "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."

London and Essex’s largest green space, Epping Forest has over 1 million trees, some of which are up to 1,000 years old, including 50,000 ancient pollards of oak as well as beech and hornbeam. The ancient woodland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

The Forestry Commission reported OPM outbreaks in the London boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest last year, but this believed to be the first outbreak treated in Epping Forest.

The Corporation is urging the public to report OPM sightings both to its own officers and to the Forestry Commission via its Tree Alert service.

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