Control Oak Processionary Moths – This particular moth wreaks havoc on oak trees and induces allergic reactions in humans and animals. We demonstrate how it can be properly managed and eradicated from our gardens.
Actually, the spongy brown caterpillars of the oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) running in a long line one after the other to eat the leaves of our oaks are pretty cute – you almost want to smooth softly over the tall stinging hairs.
The soft-haired larva of the oak processionary moth, on the other hand, is a significant pest that can also injure humans and pets due to its allergy-causing stinging hairs. Find out all there is to know about the oak processionary moth rashes right here.
Learn how to identify and prevent the oak processionary moth’s larva and the moth (also known as the “OPM”) itself. In addition, you’ll discover all you need to know about moth caterpillar growth, spread, and its harmful effects. However, for your own safety and well-being, you should let a professional handle this pest.
In this post you can learn about
- 1 Identify Oak Processionary Moth Larvae
- 2 Are Oak Processionary Moths Larvae Harmful
- 3 Preventing Oak Processionary Moths
- 4 How to Get Rid of Oak Processionary Moths Larvae
Identify Oak Processionary Moth Larvae
It’s critical to be able to recognize a moth early on in an infestation if you want to catch it in time. Oak processionary moth larvae are nocturnal creatures. There is a thick dorsal line with silky hairy patches on their backs. Long stinging hairs appear after the third larval stage.
After the fifth larval stage, the caterpillars begin to weave huge webs of silk to protect themselves and to act as a nest for the developing pupae. For this reason, the caterpillars got their name: they often travel in a line behind each other like they were in a funeral procession.
The adult moths are hairy and have a wingspan of 3 – 3.6 centimeters. However, because their pubescence does not include stinging hairs, it is completely non-lethal. The females’ wings have only one or no transverse stripes at all, whilst the males’ have two plainly visible stripes. Due to the moths’ nighttime habits, they’re a very uncommon sighting.
Life-Cycle of Processionary Moth
A chart outlining the oak processionary moth’s life cycle follows this section. Between the end of July and the beginning of September, female moths lay their eggs, which are about a millimeter in size, in the upper canopy of oak trees.
Depending on the species, a clutch might include anywhere from 100 to 200 eggs, all of which are well disguised in an extended plate shape. As soon as the eggs hatch, the first larval stage emerges, which is still yellowish-brown in appearance.
Oak leaves are the only food source for this caterpillar, which consumes the entire leaf except for the midrib. The earliest larvae in its third stage of development may be detected as early as April, depending on the conditions.
From this point on, they have stinging hairs with barbs and a nettle toxin. Pupation takes place in the summer, usually in June or July. The adult moth emerges from its pupal stage after three weeks to six weeks as a pupa, ready to lay eggs and generate the following generation.
Ideal Conditions for Processionary Moth Larval Infestation
The following are some of the best situations wherein this pest can thrive and propagate.
- Oak trees which are found in open areas or in monocultures with little other vegetation growing under them.
- Previous years have seen infestations.
- Several nearby deciduous trees became affected in recent years.
- Weather conditions like mild winters and warm summers are much favorable for their development.
Are Oak Processionary Moths Larvae Harmful
An oak processionary moth infestation is generally well tolerated by a healthy tree. Affected oaks continue to emerge even after complete clear-cutting. However, an infestation that occurs repeatedly over a long period of time is a challenge.
Abiotic (such as drought, water shortage, heat as well as cold) and biotic (such as oak powdery mildew, oak moth, and gypsy moth) weakening can lead to a significant loss of plant vitality, therefore pesticide protection is sometimes required in forestry to save entire stands from dying.
Moths can be a health hazard, especially in open green spaces, due to their stinging hairs, which can induce severe reactions in the skin and respiratory system. You can learn everything you need to know about avoiding rash and symptoms caused by oak processionary moths.
Preventing Oak Processionary Moths
The Federal Environmental Agency does not recommend pest management for oaks and many other deciduous trees as a preventative measure. If you have trees that are particularly vulnerable, you should do frequent inspections to ensure that you can respond quickly if an infestation arises.
This is due to the fact that, for example, chemical control measures can only be applied during the first and second stages of growth. As a result, by the middle of May, such treatment will no longer be an option.
Natural Organic treatments are generally promoted since they contribute to a reduction in the severity of infestations. However, longer cold episodes are required to effectively decimate the heat-loving oak processionary moth.
How to Get Rid of Oak Processionary Moths Larvae
Several factors make it difficult to eradicate the oak processionary moth problem. However, because the butterfly prefers taller trees, treating them with traditional spraying equipment is challenging.
Another thing to keep in mind is that approaching a swarm of oak processionary moths is a really bad decision. As a result, you should never try to catch or catch the animal yourself. Unless you have a choice, avoid being near an affected tree unless absolutely necessary.
Instructions while staying near an infested tree:
- Clothing must cover every inch of exposed skin.
- Keep your distance from spiders and caterpillars.
- After coming into contact with the OPM, wash your clothes in the washing machine at 60 degrees Celsius and take a hot shower to thoroughly clean your body and hair.
If oak processionary moths become a problem in your yard, you can follow the steps listed below:
- Avoid the infested area, avoiding contact with the stinging hairs, as recommended by the Government Environment Agency.
- Treat the infestation or Contact the local pest control.
Alternatively, you can hire a pest control company to deal with the caterpillars for you. Biological agents, such as Bacillus thuringiensis Bt- based preparations, are highly effective at controlling the oak processionary moth. However, the agent has not been approved for the oak processionary moth for you as a private user yet.
Other approaches include vacuuming and scraping. Burning or chopping down infected plants increases the chance of the stinging hairs spreading, therefore these options are no longer viable.
Should you Report the Oak Processionary Moth Infestation?
At this point, we’d like to make it clear that while reporting the oak processionary moth is completely voluntary. If you see an infestation in private or public property, you can and should notify the appropriate Local authorities or Pest control agencies voluntarily. There, you’ll get more advice and, if necessary, get rid of it quickly with the help of professionals.