Public, contractors and tree managers urged to help control OPM spread

The public are being urged to report sightings of oak processionary moth (OPM), and to take precautions against its caterpillars which are now active.

Image: Forestry Commission
Image: Forestry Commission

The Forestry Commission's director for England Ian Gambles said: "We need reports of the caterpillars or their nests from the public or others, such as gardeners, tree surgeons and forestry and ground-care workers, who work or relax near oak trees."

But he warned: "They should not try to remove the caterpillars or nests themselves. This needs to be carefully timed to be effective, and is most safely done by specially trained and equipped operators."

Affected areas include several boroughs in West and South-West London; Bromley and Croydon and southern parts of Lewisham in South London; and Elmbridge and Spelthorne council areas in Surrey.

Surveying last year showed that the outbreak area had increased, leading the Commission to focus its control effort on the area's outer boundaries.

Gambles added: "We are therefore encouraging oak tree owners and local authorities to continue helping to minimise the population and impacts in the core areas by finding and removing infestations."<

Sightings must be reported to the Forestry Commission via its Tree Alert on-line form.

Anyone having oak trees pruned or felled in the affected areas must first contact the Forestry Commission's Plant Health Service on or 0300 067 5155 for advice about safe removal of the material.

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