A plea to all specifiers and buyers of trees from Mike Glover, Managing Director at Barcham Trees Plc …..
“A recent trip to Holland underlined the devastation that can be caused by Oak Processionary Moth in only a few seasons. Each adult moth can lay up to 300 eggs. In three years this moth could be responsible for 27 million offspring!
And the problem is I saw hundreds of thousands of caterpillars last week in Holland and they are heading our way, hitching a lift on imported Oak Trees. The infestation is so advanced in Holland, (and probably elsewhere on the continent but I am only speaking about what I have seen first-hand), that imported oak will have a greater chance of this pest being present than not.
So what’s the problem? We’ve all liked playing with caterpillars in the garden as children but this pest packs a punch. When threatened, Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars projects their hairs into the air as a defence mechanism. If these are inhaled it can trigger life threatening asthma attacks, vomiting, severe skin rashes and massive eye irritation.
DEFRA have recognised this threat and have put strong and good measures in place to limit importation exposure but they have to work within the confines of the free market and their efforts will prove wanting unless a complete importation ban can be implemented. Oak Processionary Moth is already getting a good foothold in South Eastern England with control efforts costing a fortune to try and stamp it out.
And all for the sake of short term commercial gain or more likely complete ignorance of the situation. I started blogging about this in November 2017 and we are still sleepwalking into a catastrophe for our iconic British Oak which will have a major impact on public health. Recent high winds in the Netherlands prompted the authorities to urge people to shut their windows and doors in an effort to stop caterpillars blowing into their houses.
So the message has to be loud and clear. STOP BUYING IMPORTED OAK. Instead buy from a UK nursery that can prove to you that these trees have not just been shipped in to complete your order.
The biggest problem is lack of knowledge. If you know of anyone buying trees please make them aware of this blog and similar articles online.
Thank you. Mike
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