New outbreak of oak processionary moth reported

Oak processionary moth has spread to the west Wickham area of Bromley in south-east London.

Oak processionary moth - image: Forestry Commission
Oak processionary moth - image: Forestry Commission
The location is about 15km from the nearest known infestations in the established west London OPM-outbreak zone, prompting the Forestry Commission to suggest it may be a separate outbreak rather than an extension of the known outbreak in west.

A group of infested oak trees in a public area was spotted and reported to the commission last Wednesday by Bromley Borough Council, which immediately cordoned off the area and called in pest controllers.

The caterpillars eat oak leaves and in severe cases can defoliate whole trees leaving them vulnerable to other threats, said Alison Field, south-east England regional director of the Forestry Commission.

"It’s extremely disappointing OPM has been found in this part of London so far from the existing outbreak in west London, where they have become established since being accidentally introduced from continental Europe about 2005," she said.

"The distance away from the west London outbreak suggests this is a separate outbreak, although we will be investigating the pathway by which it got to Bromley. We are working with the council and others to eradicate the outbreak.

"Tree owners should not try to remove nests themselves, as they can be full of the caterpillars’ toxic hairs. To be as effective and safe as possible this job needs to be done by trained and equipped operators, and the nests must be disposed of properly."

Sightings of caterpillars or nests can be reported to the Forestry Commission's Forest Research agency on 01420 22255; email:; or to Bromley Council's tree team on 0208 313 4471, or to the local council.

People who are having oak trees pruned or felled in affected areas must contact the Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Service beforehand on or 0131 314 6414 for advice.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Business planning - cash-flow management

Business planning - cash-flow management

Wider market volatility can have a big impact on cash flow but there are ways to avoid problems, Neville Stein explains.

Chainsaws - Improving performance

Chainsaws - Improving performance

Battery chainsaws offer many advantages while innovative technology shelps the latest petrol models meet emissions standards, writes Sally Drury.

Chainsaws tested and reviewed: battery v petrol

Chainsaws tested and reviewed: battery v petrol

How do the latest battery models shape up against new petrol chainsaws when tested at Bridgwater College? Sally Drury reports.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Custodian Awards

Jeremy Barrell On...

Jeremy Barrell

Tree consultant Jeremy Barrell reflects on the big issues in arboriculture.

Products & Kit Resources