The fuzzy white caterpillar may look harmless, but the oak processionary moth (OPM) packs a toxic punch that can cause severe skin rashes, eye irritation, and breathing issues in humans and can kill dogs.
The infestations have also prompted one dog owner to share how his dog Benson nearly died after the dog sniffed one of the caterpillars and became severely injured.
Benson had been exploring a field when he found a strange nest. Within 6 hours, part of his ears, eyes and nose started to swell up and he was immediately taken to the vet.
The caterpillars caused a terrible rash on Benson’s nose and it almost claimed his life. Warning: the photo below is graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
Although this photo was taken a few years ago, @CampervanPup shared the photo upon hearing of the outbreak.
It’s a stark warning that the moths also pose a serious danger to pets as well as people.
The oak processionary moths (Thaumetopoea processionea) are widely distributed in central and southern Europe, and are occasionally found as far north as Sweden. In the southern countries of Europe the populations are controlled by natural predators, but these predators do not exist in northern Europe.
As their name suggests, they are found around oak trees. The caterpillars shed their hairs as a defense mechanism and many of the poisonous bristles can be found in their nests and can be blown into contact by the wind.
That’s why the UK’s Forestry Commission warns that if someone spots a nest they should call officials to have the nests removed safely.
The Forestry Commission put out a video on how to identify the nasty caterpillars to help people avoid them.
Tag : dog-story