As you may be aware from national newspapers and television, there has in recent years, been a problem with Oak Processionary Moth coming into this country and building nests in oak trees.
Until now, there has been minimal experience of these nests occurring on the Commons. However this year has seen a noticeable change with a number of nests being found in St Pauls Cray Common. We are in regular contact with the Forestry Commission about these finds and with our neighbours, the National Trust and Scadbury (London Borough of Bromley) and have carried out a number of surveys to identify the extent of the infestation. The Forestry Commission are doing likewise. To the best of our knowledge the infestation has not reached Chislehurst Commons itself.
The caterpillars have tiny hairs which contain an irritant and contact with the hairs can cause itching skin rashes and, less commonly, sore throats, breathing difficulties and eye problems. This can happen if people or animals touch the caterpillars or their nests, or if the hairs are blown into contact by the wind. The caterpillars can also shed the hairs as a defence mechanism, and lots of hairs are left in the nests, which is why nests should not be touched without protective clothing.
We are working hard to help try to contain this outbreak and have contracted a specialist to remove the nests. The work will commence as soon as possible.
If you do see one of these nests please do not touch it and do keep children and animals away from them.