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Watch out for toxic caterpillars!

Watch out for toxic caterpillars!

Sunday 21 June 2020

Watch out for toxic caterpillars!

Islanders are being urged to report any sightings of an oak tree-dwelling toxic caterpillar and can cause skin rashes, vomiting and even life-threatening asthma attacks.

The Oak Processionary Caterpillar, which was accidentally introduced to Jersey around a decade ago, is dangerous to both human and animal health because of its toxic hairs, which can cause severe skin irritation and allergic reactions.

The larvae stage of a moth with the same name, the caterpillars build silken nests in oak trees, covering the tree and the surrounding area in tiny hairs which are invisible to the naked eye. 

Issuing a warning about the caterpillars, the Environment Department urged islanders to be vigilant and report any sightings of them and not to go too close or touch the creatures or their nests.


Pictured: Islanders are being encouraged to report sightings of the caterpillars or their nests. 

The toxic hairs can be blown by the wind and if they fall to the ground they can stick to trunks, branches, grass and clothing as well as equipment used by tree surgeons, forestry and ground-care workers. Anyone in this line of work is advised to wear full protective clothing.

Pets and children should stay away from nests and caterpillars. 

Scott Meadows, Head of Biosecurity said: “The species was accidentally introduced to Jersey approximately 10 years ago and is classed as a statutory invasive species. The Environment department really value the public being aware of and reporting such species.

“There have been very few sightings to date, but we feel it is important to make the public aware. So, if you suspect you have seen a nest or the caterpillars in an oak tree, try and get a picture but don’t approach too closely and call it in.”

Sightings should be reported to the Environment Department by emailing

Anyone with a severe reaction or who is uncertain what has caused their rash should consult their GP.

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