Your Responsibilities

OPM Health Risks

The Forestry Commission encourage the following mantra for everyone in affected areas to adopt – ‘Spot it, avoid it, report it’ 

  1. ‘Spot it’ – Be able to recognise OPM nests and caterpillars (see forestry commission website for further details)
  2. ‘Avoid it’ – Protect yourself and people/ animals in your care from the health hazards
  3. ‘Report it’ – Report your finding

Contact us now by clicking here or calling 07949 4653023.

You must never touch the caterpillars or their nests. The caterpillars can shed hairs when disturbed, they can also be blown by the wind, stick to branches, bark and grass. The nests can fall from the tree containing accumulated hairs. Only qualified personnel with the correct protective equipment should touch or move nests.

The most vulnerable to the health hazards posed by OPM are:

  • Children and pets
  • People who work on or close to Oak trees
  • People spending time close to infested trees
  • Grazing livestock and wild animals

To minimise the health risks:

  • do not touch or approach OPM nests or caterpillars
  • do not let children or animals touch or approach nests or caterpillars
  • do not try removing nests or caterpillars yourself

Risks to Health include:

  • irritation to the eyes
  • irritation to the skin
  • sore throat
  • breathing difficulties

The risk of exposure to the caterpillar hairs is highest in May and June.

If you own or manage oak trees in any of the affected area you can download the following document from the Forestry Commission website to ensure you fulfil your duty of care – ‘oak tree owners OPM manual’