17th May 2022
The public are being urged to keep an eye out for any signs of disease in local trees, as the UK launches a hi-tech, £5.8m tree laboratory to fight the spread of pests and diseases. The UK is especially vulnerable to the growing spread of plant pathogens because of warmer, wetter winters, and because it is a hub for global trade. The public can report sightings via the Tree Alert site, and a specialist will come and look at the tree, or send samples for further testing. One pest that affects Richmond Park is the oak procession are moth.
“First identified in London in 2006, it probably arrived on imported live wood. It has since been found in some surrounding counties. The caterpillars will be emerging over the next three months. They are black with long white hairs and move in long nose-to-tail processions, which give them their name. The nests are usually the shape of a dome or teardrop and are around the size of a tennis ball. They strip bark off oak trees and cause them to lose their leaves. The caterpillars can cause rashes and breathing difficulties, and should not be touched.”