Caterpillar-infested oak trees removed

Published Monday, 15th July 2019

Two oak trees in Church Square are being chemically treated and removed following the discovery of Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars.

The Council, which is working closely with the Department for Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Forestry Commission, is required to chop down and incinerate the trees after treating them with insecticide.

Staff carried out checks and discovered the caterpillars after being alerted to a potential pest problem by Defra. Similar outbreaks have been reported in other parts of the UK

The trees are being chemically treated before being removed

The trees are being chemically treated before being removed

The oak trees which are each about 12-13 metres tall, were purchased by the Council from a nursery in the Netherlands and planted as part of the recent refurbishment of Church Square. The caterpillar eggs are thought to have already been on the trees when they left the Continent.

The caterpillars, which are non-native to the UK, turn into pupae and then moths in late July. They defoliate and weaken oak trees and can be a hazard to human and animal health. Their tiny toxic hairs can trigger allergic reactions and skin irritation.