London crawling: Deadly caterpillars invade London

Credit Forestry Commission

Authorities warned residents of London about the dangers of poisonous caterpillars, which upon contact can cause asthma attacks, vomiting or rashes.

Risky caterpillars noticed in the South-East of England, their numbers are increasing. It can cause skin rashes as well as eye and throat irritation, and sometimes even breathing difficulties.

The caterpillars have 62,000 hairs, each of which contains the protein thaumetopoein.

In this case, the toxin contained in this dropped the balance, remains active for up to 5 years.

The commission said in an information brochure that they can also pose a hazard to the oak trees in which they normally nest, as they eat the leaves. The biggest infestations have been spotted in the Greater London area. Once they become adult moths in July or August, they generally only live for three days.

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It's thought that the insects were originally brought here on trees imported from Europe, and have continued breeding since.

"The caterpillars can also shed the hairs as a defense mechanism, and lots of hairs are left in the nests, which is why nests should not be touched without protective clothing", the Forestry Commission wrote in a statement.

"We advise people not to pick up the caterpillar or pick up the nest", a spokesman for Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said, adding that there have been no reports of serious illness because of contact with the caterpillar. This year, official began treating infected trees in a "control zone" using biopesticides - these use viruses or bacteria that only harm the target. Moreover, it would also be wise to teach children not to touch or approach the caterpillars and to keep pets restrained so as to avoid contact.

OPM caterpillars may be identified by their distinctive long, white hairs, as well as their nose-to-tail processions, either in oak trees or on the ground. They are making them more vulnerable to the other pests and diseases.


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