First Irish sighting of tree pest which poses danger to the public

The pest gives rise to many thousands of skin complaints annually in Europe when people come in contact with it.
First Irish sighting of tree pest which poses danger to the public
The oak processionary caterpillar poses a danger to the public. Suspected sightings should be notified immediately to the Department of Agriculture. Picture: iStock
The oak processionary caterpillar poses a danger to the public. Suspected sightings should be notified immediately to the Department of Agriculture. Picture: iStock

Members of the public and the horticulture industry have been warned to be vigilant, following the first sighting in Ireland of the oak processionary moth caterpillar (so-called because they move about in late spring and early summer in nose-to-tail processions).

The pest gives rise to many thousands of skin complaints annually in Europe when people come in contact with it.

The warning came from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, which said swift action was taken to eradicate the pest (at an unnamed location).

Suspected sightings should be notified immediately to the Department by emailing to their plantandpests@agriculture.gov.ie address. Early reports are critical to allow professionals quickly deal with oak processionary moth caterpillars, which pose a risk to the public, because the caterpillar hairs cause skin irritations, and sometimes serious health problems in people and pets.

The nuisance caused by the oak processionary caterpillar has grown considerably in continental countries, where the caterpillar has been found over the past 30 years.

The Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research indicated last year that around June and July, thousands of people visited their general practitioner with skin complaints linked to the caterpillars.

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