The caterpillar of the oak processionary moth looks harmless, but the poisonous hairs can cause serious health problems. Garden owners should not underestimate this danger.
The fine hair of the caterpillar contains the poison thaumetopoein.
Shortness of breath and allergic shock: These are the reactions that can occur after skin contact with the oak processionary moth. Specifically, it is about the fine stinging hairs, which are harmful to humans and animals.
Oak Processionary Moth: Dangerous for humans, animals and nature
While the adult moth is completely harmless, the hairs of the caterpillar are provided with a Nesselgift that causes extreme reactions such as itching, blistering or rash in extreme cases. These symptoms can then persist for several days. But not only external reactions can occur during contact, but also the respiratory tract can be irritated. Complaints such as shortness of breath or asthma are the result.
Even the nature is not safe from the small caterpillar: The oak processionary moth is known to cause damage in the forest, especially in spring in oak trees.
Especially between spring you should be extra careful! During this period, the caterpillars lose their poisonous hairs, which are then carried away by the wind. In addition, in the nests of the previous year are still burning hair, which can be even up to three years later, still dangerous. These are also captured by the wind and thus land on humans or animals.
This is how you recognize the oak processionary moth
Above all freestanding oak trees are a popular place of residence for the oak processionary moth. There, the inconspicuous butterfly lays its eggs, from which the dangerous caterpillars hatch in spring These usually appear in groups, crawl after each other as in a procession and eat the tree gradually bare. Striking are above all the long hairs of the caterpillar on the back.
To protect yourself from the oak procession spinner, you should avoid infested forest and observe local warnings. In addition, you should wear long-sleeved clothes and headgear during the forest walk.
In particularly endangered regions, countermeasures with pesticides and pesticides are being implemented.
After contact with the oak processionary moth
In many cases, touching the stinging hairs does not lead to an allergic reaction. Nevertheless, you should change your clothes as soon as possible after the contact and wash at 60 degrees. Do not forget to wash your hair. Avoid getting the nettle poison in the eyes, as in the worst case conjunctivitis can develop here. Cooling affected skin with ice will relieve the pain.
If an allergic reaction occurs after contact with the nettle hair of the oak processionary moth, seek medical advice immediately. Features include rash, respiratory irritation, dyspnoea, cough, or asthma. Certain medications and cortisone ointments that the doctor prescribes help against the allergic reactions.
Gerhardt Richter is a writer and a trainer at trade technical colleges, specializing in carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and construction.