Berkshire

Bracknell residents warned over toxic caterpillar discovery

Oak Processionary Moth nest Image copyright Bracknell Forest Council
Image caption Residents have been warned to avoid the area

Toxic caterpillars that can cause vomiting, asthma attacks and rashes have been found in Berkshire, officials have warned.

Oak processionary moths (OPM) were discovered in their larval stage on an oak tree near Clintons Hill, Bracknell.

The area has been cordoned off and posters put up, advising people to not approach the site for their safety.

The warning comes after an OPM outbreak was recorded in Greater London and the surrounding areas in April.

A Bracknell Forest Council spokesman said it was working with the Forestry Commission to "control the spread of this moth and minimise the risk to the public".

The Forestry Commission has advised that people should not to touch the nests or caterpillars or to try to remove them.

The caterpillars contain tiny hairs that can cause eye and skin irritation, breathing difficulties and sore throats in people and animals who come into contact with them, the commission said.

They can also affect the health of oak trees, stripping trees bare and leaving them weakened and vulnerable to other threats.

Image caption The OPM caterpillar can cause vomiting and asthma attacks

The commission came under fire in 2014 when it used a bacterial spray, which the charity Buglife believed to be harmful to other wildlife, to eliminate toxic caterpillars found in another Berkshire woodland, Herridge's Copse, Pangbourne.

It is not yet clear how this latest nest will be dealt with.

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