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A festival of food and drink in the New Forest

The flowers of the forest help to create stunning dishes Credit: New Forest Food Festival

The first ever New Forest Food and Drink Festival is set to take place from 31 October to 6 November this year.

The event will feature traditional forest foods, celebrity chef showcases, culinary events and activities for all ages.

Menus are made up of local produce such as Pannage Pig as well as fish and seafood plus succulent desserts.

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Youngsters gather for Young Carers Festival

Young carers enjoying cake decorating at the Festival Credit: ITV News Meridian

This weekend young carers from across the country will gather at the Young Carers Festival hosted by the YMCA Fairthorne Manor, near Botley. The gathering is the world's largest event for children and young people with a caring responsibility.

Started in 2000 by the YMCA and the Children's Society, the action packed Young Carers Festival is hosted at YMCA Fairthorne Manor, near Botley. The festival provides the youngsters with enjoy some respite from their caring responsibilities.

The event also provides young carers with the opportunity to have their voice heard by policy makers and share experiences with other to meet young people in a similar the position as them.

Young carers taking part in climbing exercises Credit: ITV News Meridian
Young Carers Festival camp site Credit: ITV News Meridian

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Warning about toxic caterpillar as summer approaches

They are toxic to humans and animals and they can destroy trees. As we approach summer, a warning has been issued to beware of a caterpillar which is emerging in forests across the south.

The larvae of the oak processionary moth lives in and feeds on oak trees.

The caterpillars have thousands of tiny hairs that contain a substance called thaumetopoein. The hairs can be carried on the wind and can cause itching skin rashes and occasionally, sore throats, breathing difficulties and eye problems.

The Forestry Commission says the first ones of the year were reported last month and that controlled treatment of affected trees with approved insecticide to kill the caterpillars is under way.

It added that those which survived treatment will now be getting big enough and descending low enough in the trees to be seen.

Outbreaks have previously been confirmed in wooded areas in Pangbourne in Berkshire and Guildford in Surrey.

Watch Emma Wilkinson's report.

Caterpillar pictures courtesy of the Forestry Commission. Interview with Craig Harrison from the Forestry Commission.

Public warned about skin rashes from caterpillars

The oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea; OPM) is a pest which has established itself in oak trees in parts of southern England in recent years, after being accidentally introduced from mainland Europe. They damage oak trees, and can cause itching skin rashes and other health problems in people and animals.

The pests can cause skin rashes and other health problems Credit: Forestry Commission

OPM caterpillars can damage our precious oak trees by feeding on the leaves. Large numbers can strip whole trees almost bare of leaves, weakening the trees and making them vulnerable to other threats such as drought and disease.

The caterpillars emerge about April every year and develop thousands of tiny hairs which contain an irritating substance called thaumetopoein. This can cause itching skin rashes, eye irritations and sore throats in people and animals that come into contact with them. In rare cases they can cause breathing difficulties and allergic reactions.

It is important to avoid contact with the hairs, to teach your children to avoid them, and to protect your pets from them. Curious pets might need to be restrained from approaching nests and caterpillars.

However, if you are affected, the symptoms, although unpleasant, are not usually medically serious and will pass in a few days. You can ask a pharmacist for something to relieve the symptoms.

If you do have a serious allergic reaction, call NHS111 or see a doctor. Similarly, consult a vet for badly affected animals

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