Caterpillar infestations on rise
Published 15/05/2010 | 10:26
Global warming has been blamed for an increase in caterpillar infestations which can leave people with severe allergic reactions.
In the latest incident, residents of West Street, Newport, Isle of Wight, have been forced to stay indoors or wear protective body suits and face masks to avoid coming into contact with tiny hairs shed by the brown tail moth caterpillars.
The insects have set up home in an isolated plot of land next to gardens in the street which has become overgrown.
Steve Gardner, of Island Pest Control, has been called in to eliminate the caterpillars.
He said his company had dealt with an increasing number of infestations as the climate had become warmer in the past five years.
He said: "It's a problem on the Isle of Wight and the Hampshire area and it has been getting slowly worse. In general these insects are getting worse in this country as the the climate is changing and the summers are getting warmer.
"Normally these insects settle in fields where they do not do anyone any harm but if they are close to houses they travel from garden to garden causing problems.
"As the caterpillar grows it sheds its skin and the tiny hairs float in the air and can cause a severe skin reaction."
The caterpillar of the brown tail moth, which is brown, has a dotted white line down each side and two very distinctive red dots on the back of its tail, emerges from its nest as the weather gets warmer in May and June.
The easiest time to get rid of them is during the winter when their tent-like nests are visible and can be easily cut down.