Don’t touch warning over oak processionary caterpillar nests in London and Berkshire

Residents and visitors to south and west London, and Pangbourne in Berkshire, are being reminded not to touch the nests which oak processionary caterpillars could be building in oak trees in these areas.

They are also being alerted to protect animals from the nests, and to report sightings to the Forestry Commission or local Councils.

This is because the nests can contain thousands of the caterpillars’ hairs, which contain an irritating substance called thaumetopoein, which can cause painful skin rashes and, sometimes, eye and throat irritations in people and animals.

Owners story

I thought I would share my horrific weekend story in the hope it may help someone in the future............

My family & I went carvanning last weekend for our end of year car show. We met up with all our good friends, had a few drinks & generally lovely time.

On Saturday afternoon my daughter ran up to me saying how Badger our SBT's eyes were swollen, I took a quick look & him & not only were his eyes swollen, his ears were swollen (he couldn't hear us), his face was swollen, he was struggling to breath & had lumps all over his body, I ran into the caravan to check on Daisy our EBT, she had collapsed on the sofa, she was so hot, struggling to breath, her feet had swollen & she was pretty much lifeless. To say I was scared was an understatement!

We placed both dogs in the car & raced to a 24 hour vet, (Emmview Vets-part of the Ninemile Net group). We waited a matter of minutes before being seen by Robert, he checked the dogs over whilst questioning us on the days events. Both Daisy & Badger had a very weak pulse & heartbeat, he whisked them away, gave them injections, got them on fluids & took bloods. We waited for Robert to return & tell us the next bit of news. He wanted to get fluids into them both as they were very weak, then he wanted to inject them to make them sick for about 20 mins (my heart was breaking) but he wanted to make sure if they had eaten something it didnt stay in them, he would then stop the sickness & be fed charcoal, at that point he should have the bloods back & they would go from there. We were sent home praying for our furbabies recovery.

Whilst we were racing to the vets our friends & family were searching our caravan/awning & surrounding area for anything that may have harmed our dogs. My sister found a caterpillar by the dogs beds, she took pictures of it & that placed it in a pot. When we arrived back at the campsite we explained everything to everyone & was then told about the caterpillar. We rung the vets & told them about the caterpillar. After what seemed an absolute age we were rung back, Robert went over everything he had done for our dogs & then said he had been looking on the Internet about Caterpillars but couldn't find much about them & dogs. He telephoned the poison unit & they confirmed that the symptoms our dogs had related to were that of ingesting a caterpillar. We think that they may have had the caterpillar in their mouths & just the hairs caused this awful reaction. They were poisoned by a caterpillar. The vet said he had never seen anything like this when we took our dogs in.

Both Daisy & Badger were kept in, we were updated on their progress & were then allowed to collect them on Sunday as they had made a wonderful recovery. I cannot thank Emmview Vets enough, they saved my FurBabies.

This is the culprit!

Veterinary Centers of America
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
UC Davis
Washington State University
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Dogs Naturally
Dr Conor Brady

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the advice provided by your veterinarian.