Sadly, in the last two weeks we have spotted two nests of Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars (OPM) on young oak trees at sites where we have been carrying out tree inspections. In both cases, the caterpillars are on young oak trees that were planted in 2018, imported from mainland Europe.
OPM is not only a serious pest for oak trees becuase the caterpillars can efficiently defoliate trees, but they are a public health hazard as their hairs are a serious irritant that can cause skin rashes, eye irritations and respiratory problems.
We have spotted this pest in the same month that they have also been spotted eleswhere in the UK including in Cardiff, Grantham and Portsmouth.
Despite numerous conferences, symposiums and a lot of other talk about the urgent biosecurity risks that the UK faces by importing trees, OPM has still spread quite quickly beyond the greater London area due to shockingly poor practice by the landscape and tree care industries. Our clients are now having to deal with public health hazards and destroy expensive new trees due to this malpractice. At the same time, ash dieback has been noticeably more prevalent this year.
If you have young trees that were planted in the last two years and would like us to inspect them for pests and diseases please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Taking a longer view, we at Barton Hyett Associates will soon be taking more proactive action to assist our clients in avoiding these issues and therefore doing our bit to improve biosecurity issues for British arboriculture.