Toxic Caterpillars Take Over England, Causing Severe Allergic Reactions Among the Population

Oak processionary moths on a tree trunk

The long strands of hair actually make the caterpillars toxic

The English health officials have recently issued a warning against some toxic caterpillars that might trigger severe allergic reactions in humans. These creatures, called oak processionary moths, have some extremely toxic strands of hair that might even kill a person. Officials spotted them in London and in southeastern England, and are warning everyone to stay away from them.

The toxic caterpillar can trigger serious allergic reactions

These toxic caterpillars are so dangerous because of their hair. These white and long strands might cause allergic reactions that vary from mild to really severe. At best, you might experience some mild irritations of the skin and eyes. If you are unlucky, the moths might trigger an anaphylactic shock, in which case you might even die.

The larvae of the oak processionary moths are more toxic. Given the period of the year, authorities found them in high numbers in London, but people from other areas reported getting infected as well. Guildford, Slough, and Bracknell Forest are a few other regions where the problem of toxic caterpillars is acute.

The English Authorities are getting people informed about the creatures

Spotting the infection can be quite tough, as it’s not immediately visible. Medical experts say that, once you touch the toxic hairs of the creature, the first reaction appears much slower than after a bee sting. Moreover, even one single strand of hair is extremely toxic. Once it falls on the ground, it stays toxic for a period of five years. One caterpillar has about 62,000 hair strands on a body, which turn it into a serious health hazard.

Fortunately, the English health authorities spotted no serious infection after the toxic caterpillars became so abundant. However, it’s better to stay safe and avoid touching the creatures. Like their name says, they live near oaks and become more prominent near the end of spring and the beginning of summer.

You will recognize them from their long and white strands of hair. Once you stumble upon them or their nests, stay away from them. Do not touch anything that came into contact with them, and keep your children from playing with them.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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