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Oak Processionary Moths found in Chobham

Oak processionary moths, a non-native species whose caterpillars can be harmful to people and animals and badly damage some species of oak trees by devouring the leaves, have been found in Chobham.

They were in pheromone traps on Surrey Heath Borough Council land at Chobham Meadows and are the first sign that the moth has spread from neighbouring boroughs.

The Surrey Heath Borough Council Tree Officer says the small, brown moths will inevitably lay eggs and spread further but the public can help the local authority get their colonies under control by reporting any signs that they are in local trees.

The signs to look out for are nests (white in colour during the height of the summer and then fading to brown) on the trunks of oak trees or on the ground and then, from next spring, the caterpillars that will hatch in March of April. 

Their distinctive characteristic, which is where they name comes from, is moving in nose-to-tail processions 

The key advice is to stay away from both the caterpillars and their nests, which will be full of caterpillar hairs, but to report any sightings immediately.

The fine hairs can cause skin rashes, and less commonly sore throats, breathing difficulties and eye problems. 


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

For pictures , more information and advice on precautions, please see this guidance provided by Surrey Heath Borough Council or visit the Forestry Commission website.


HOW TO REPORT 

Any signs of the moths or caterpillars  in Chobham or elsewhere in Surrey Heath should be reported to either:

The Surrey Heath Tree Officer on 01276 707100 or email contact.centre@surreyheath.gov.uk

OR 

The Forestry Commission, using the Tree Alert on-line reporting form at forestry.gov.uk/opm or e-mail opm@forestry.gsi.gov.uk, or telephone 0300 067 4442.


CHOBHAM RECREATION GROUND AND JUBILEE MOUNT 

If you are concerned there might be nests or caterpillars at Chobham Recreation Ground or Jubilee Mount on Chobham Common, which are managed by Chobham Parish Council, report in the first instance as requested above to Surrey Heath or the Forestry Commission, but please also let us know at the Parish Council and the Recreation Ground by calling 01276 856633 or by emailing admin@chobhamparishcouncil.org.uk.