Warmer weather has meant that caterpillars of oak processionary moth are becoming more common in Luxembourg, triggering a warning from the health ministry

The oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) has been reproducing increasingly quickly in Luxembourg because of the warmer weather. No only does it cause damage to trees, but they pose a health risk to humans.

The caterpillars of the oak processionary are covered in poisonous hairs that can cause allergies. These hairs can irritate human skin, leading to itchy rashes that can lead to inflammatory skin reactions. Irritation of the eyes and the respiratory channels are also possible. Other possible symptoms include fever and vertigo.

The ministry for sustainable development has issued information on preventive measures in German and French.

The press release states that the caterpillars pose a risk mainly in residential areas and parks. From the third larval stage, the hairs of the caterpillar contain a dangerous protein called Thaumetopoein, which can cause irritation of the respiratory tract and the eyes.

Caterpillars found in blackthorn or hawthorn bushes are usually harmless.

The ministry for sustainable development and the ministry for health had already issued an information leaflet in 2017 in order to explain to citizens what the oak processionary is and why it can pose a risk. It also lists some preventive measures. The leaflet is available from the office for nature management and on the www.emwelt.lu and www.sante.lu websites.