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The spread of oak procession moths is becoming a growing problem across Germany. Now the Berlin Senate Department for Health and Urban Development has asked the population to help fight the caterpillars. The caterpillars can provoke allergic reactions in humans.
Contact with the hairs of the oak procession moths is risky, since they contain the nettle poison thaumetopoein, which can cause violent allergic reactions if they come into contact with the skin or when inhaled. Since the fine stinging hair can also be transported by air, there is an increased health risk even at a distance from the caterpillar nests. For this reason, action against the oak processionary moth must be taken, especially in heavily frequented places such as recreation and sports facilities, schools, kindergartens and houses, the Berlin Senate Administration said. Here, the authorities are also dependent on support from the population, who is asked to report spotted nests of oak procession moths to the responsible health and green space authorities immediately.
Report the nest of the oak processionary moth to the authorities. Not only does the Berlin Senate Department for Health and Urban Development ask for the population's help in combating the oak processionary moth, but also the Brandenburg State Office for Rural Development, Agriculture and Land Reconciliation tries to sensitize the residents to the risk. In Brandenburg, the spread of the caterpillars, especially in the parks and gardens of the state capital Potsdam, is so massive that the city administration has already closed some areas for visitors. The sighted webs (caterpillar nests) must be removed by experts due to the risks from the stinging hair. If the webs are on private property, the authorities request the property owners to have the nests removed in an emergency. If those affected do not comply with this request, the health authority can arrange for the caterpillars to be removed and the property owners to be charged for this.
Health risk from stinging hair of the oak procession moth In humans, the stinging hair of the poisonous caterpillars often cause typical signs of nettle fever, such as reddening of the skin, blistering and severe itching. Irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract is also not uncommon. In the worst case, those affected experience a life-threatening allergic shock. Itchy rash caused by the burning hair of the oak processionary moth is referred to in the specialist literature as caterpillar dermatitis. (fp)
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Image: Caterpillar dermatitis due to oak procession spinner Photo: Daniel Ullrich.