Set pheromone traps now to monitor OPM spread, Forestry Commission urges

Adult oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) - image:Forestry Commission
Adult oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) - image:Forestry Commission
Pheromone trapping of the oak processionary moth (OPM) is one of the most effective ways to monitor and therefore control the noxious invasive tree pest, according to a new guidance note from the Forestry Commission.

It says the technique can provide an early warning of areas where caterpillars are likely to be found the following spring, enabling advance planning of spring and summer surveying and treatment programmes.

The adult male moths which the pheromone traps are designed to lure, live only two or three days. They emerge from mid-July, with numbers peaking in mid-August.

Dr John Morgan, Head of the Forestry Commission's Plant Health Service, said: "The Government has made combatting the threat from tree pests and diseases including OPM a priority, and it is essential that we tackle it with all the expertise we can muster."

The Practice Note was written by Dr Nigel Straw, a senior entomologist with the Forestry Commission's Forest Research agency, and is aimed at forest and woodland managers, local authority tree and woodland officers, arboriculturists and others managing oak trees in OPM-affected areas.

Outbreaks of OPM are so far confined to parts of London and Berkshire.

The Practice Note can be downloaded here (pdf, 1.1MB), while further information about OPM is available from www.forestry.gov.uk/opm.

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