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Toxic Caterpillars Are Apparently ‘Invading’ The UK

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Toxic Caterpillars Are Apparently ‘Invading’ The UK

This is supposed to be a time of year where we pack away those winter jumpers and get excited about summer. Instead, we're being told to stay inside, lock the doors and pray until summer is over because of toxic caterpillars.

Yep, them damn crawling insects could essentially ruin summer altogether.

Credit: regani/Creative Commons
Credit: regani/Creative Commons

Oak processionary moths have been spotted around England's south-east and, according to the Daily Mail, their numbers have been rising over the past two weeks. The moths aren't that bad, it's when they're in caterpillar form that makes them dangerous.

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They've got tens of thousands of bristles attached to their bodies which contain a toxin. It's the same defence mechanism used by stinging nettles and spiders.

But you don't even have to come in contact with these caterpillars to be at their mercy. Their bristles can come loose and can become airborne and affect people living far away.

Not only can it make your skin itch, but it can also result in a rash and conjunctivitis. If you somehow manage to inhale these nasty little things, you can develop a sore throat, respiratory distress, asthma flare ups and even anaphylaxis.

Credit: Kwouters001/Creative Commons
Credit: Kwouters001/Creative Commons
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The toxin stays active inside the bristle for up to five years. Yeah, not a good time.

A spokesperson for the Forestry Commission told the Mail Online: "It is theoretically possible that if [the pests] were to spread [they] could survive and breed in much of England and Wales."

They've been spotted in Ealing, Tooting, Epping Forest in Essex, and around the Twickenham area and the Commission has been working to get them the hell out of here but there's no guarantee that they'll be all killed off.

The spokesperson adds: "'The treatment programme is expected to continue for about five or six weeks. We aim to complete this while the caterpillars are still small enough.

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"The oak trees to be treated are those known to have been infested with OPM last year, and other oak trees nearby."

It seems as though every season brings about some horrible infestation.

As we were approaching autumn, Brits were told to be wary of a potential 150 million population of spiders. Apparently there was an excess number of summer flies around and this, combined with breeding season, led calls for people to prepare to find a creepy crawly or two in their homes.

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Around the same time last year we were also warned about a potential flea infestation with males carrying a reproductive organ double the length of their bodies.

So happy Summer to everyone.

Featured Image Credit: Kleuske/Creative Commons

Topics: UK, Animals, Britain

Stewart Perrie
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