Although these are commonly found around the south and east coasts of England, there are more reports of infestations in our local areas. The most recent reports being in Red Lodge and also one case being reported to East Cambridge District Council by ourselves at Green Wood Tee Surgery in Queen Adelaide.
The caterpillars have a preference to hawthorn and blackberry but are not fussy and will consume any type of bush. The brown tail moth caterpillar can be a huge problem for gardeners causing defoliation of trees and bushes, which can cause further ill health in the affected tree or bush.
They become most active during the Spring when they come out of hibernation. At the beginning of the season they emerge from their winter tents (a web like hairy tent structure they have spun before hibernation) and start to feed.
Neither the caterpillars or cocoons should be handled as it could cause a hazard to your health.Greenwood are looking forward to our largest trade show, solely aimed at our sector with exhibits and displays from trusted suppliers within our industry.
Identitfying a Brown Tail Moth Caterpillar
To help identify a Brown Tail moth caterpillar, the above photograph and key points below should help;
• Measure between 7mm-38mm (dependant on age)
• Dark brown with a white line down each side of the body
• Body covered in tufts of brown spikey hair
• Two orange/red dots on the back of the caterpillar towards the tail
The spikey (barbed) hair, which the caterpillars carry, can cause an irritation to the skin if you come into contact with them. If you are an asthmatic or hayfever sufferer, it could cause breathing difficulties if the hairs are inhaled.
If you do find an infestation you must report it to your local council. Also to help monitor the problem, you can visit the Forestry Commission website www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert and complete an online form where you can record your sighting and/or any other pest or disease in trees.