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Working to remove park pest

Last Modified July 10, 2020
 
To ensure our parks and open spaces remain a haven for residents, we have conducted a survey across a number of our sites to tackle a pest found in Oak trees.

The Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) was first reported in three council owned sites across the borough in May. Since then we have surveyed over 1,350 Oak trees across Hertsmere’s parks and open spaces.

This survey has shown that 48 trees across 16 Hertsmere Borough Council sites have Oak Processionary Moth nests.

Councillor Seamus Quilty, Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: ”Since the Oak Processionary Moth was first sighted in Hertsmere, our officers have surveyed a large percentage our Oak trees to determine the level of infestation and ensure the safety of park users, especially young children who may be exploring trees this summer.

"Our parks team is working to control the spread of the Oak Processionary Moth. Contractors, wearing protective clothing, will be removing and safely disposing of nests and caterpillars across our parks from mid-July.

“We will also be erecting permanent signs to warn park users of the risks of the Oak Processionary Moth. Our advice remains 'spot it, avoid it, report it'."

Signs advising park users to avoid contact with the caterpillar and their nest, which can cause itchy rashes, eye irritations and, in severe cases, breathing difficulties in people and pets, are being permanently installed across infested sites.

Cllr Quilty, added: “Once the initial removal has taken place we will continue to work with the Forestry Commission to resurvey and treat the pest to hopefully control and limit the problem in Hertsmere.”

People can use the Forestry Commission’s online reporting system ‘Tree Alert’ (www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/tree-alert/) to identify and report the Oak Processionary Moth.

The greatest risk period is May to July when the caterpillars emerge and feed before pupating into adult moths, but nests, even old ones, should not be touched at any time.

The nests are typically dome or teardrop-shaped, ranging in size – from a ping-pong ball to as large as a rucksack. They are white when fresh, but soon become discoloured and brown. The caterpillars have black heads and bodies covered in long white hairs and are easily recognised by a distinctive habit of crawling in large groups, nose-to-tail forming long lines on or around oak trees.

If you see any Oak Processionary nests or caterpillars in a council park you should report them immediately on 020 8207 2277 or email: customer.services@hertsmere.gov.uk

If they are on a privately owned oak tree, report them to the Forestry Commission using the Tree Alert online pest reporting form. If you cannot use Tree Alert, you may report them by telephone on 030 0067 442 or by email at opm@forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

For more information on the Oak Processionary Moth, including distribution maps and detailed guidance on treatment visit: www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/pest-and-disease-resources/oak-processionary-moth-thaumetopoea-processionea/
Posted on Friday 10th July 2020
 

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