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Helicopter to spray woodland in plan to eradicate caterpillar 'pests'

The Oak Processionary Moth can cause a threat to Credit: Mark Townsend/Gristwood & Toms.

The Forestry Commission is planning to spray woodland near Pangbourne in West Berkshire to eradicate a pesky species of caterpillar. The Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) caterpillars can eat the leaves off entire trees, leaving the trees vulnerable to other pests and diseases.

A helicopter will spray the woodland twice over 7 to 14 days in May. This is the time of year when OPM caterpillars typically emerge from eggs in oak trees. As well as being a risk to trees the 'pests' can cause a painful rash in humans and animals. Eye and throat problems have also been reported.

The area to be sprayed includes Herridge's and Broom Copses and other trees nearby. The Forestry Commission, along with West Berkshire Council are reassuring the public that the spray which is a bacterial agent occurring naturally and widely in soil poses no risk to humans or animals.