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Toxic caterpillars causing rashes, asthma attacks spotted around London

There has been an outbreak of rashes, vomiting and asthma attacks in London caused by white-haired caterpillars that live in oak trees.

health Updated: Apr 30, 2018 11:19 IST
Associated Press
Caterpillar,Rashes,Skin rashes
Breathing difficulties are being caused by caterpillars who are covered in thousands of hairs containing the protein thaumetopoein.(Shutterstock)

Residents in London are being told to beware the white-haired caterpillars that can cause rashes, vomiting and asthma attacks. The British Forestry Commission says caterpillars that become oak processionary moths have been spotted in and around the British capital since mid-April.

The caterpillars are covered in thousands of hairs containing the protein thaumetopoein, which can cause skin rashes, sore throats, breathing difficulties and eye problems. People are being warned not to touch the creatures, which are most often found in oak trees — and to keep pets away from them, too.

Officials are treating oak trees with pesticides to try and eliminate the moths, which were accidentally introduced to Britain in 2005 on plants imported from continental Europe. The Observer newspaper said Sunday that authorities will also set traps for the caterpillars.

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First Published: Apr 30, 2018 11:18 IST