Oak procession moth caterpillars pupate - health risk remains

Oak procession moth caterpillars pupate - health risk remains

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Caterpillars of the oak processionary moth pupate - danger has not yet been averted

This year, oak procession moths injured people in many cities. Now that the caterpillars pupate, there is no longer any danger to humans. However, the butterfly's nests should still be avoided.

Only the caterpillars can be dangerous

Again and again experts point out that contact with oak procession spinners can lead to health problems. More specifically, it is not about the moth itself, but about the caterpillars that have so-called "stinging hair". Since the caterpillars pupate, they no longer pose a danger to humans. But the nests of the oak processionary moth (EPS) should still be avoided, explain the Mönchengladbacher waste, green and street companies AöR (mags).

Caterpillar hair contains a nettle poison

The oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) is an inconspicuous gray-brown moth. The moth itself is harmless, but the offspring can be dangerous.

The caterpillars of the little animals hatch - depending on the weather - in April or May and go through various stages of development and molting in several weeks.

As the mags explain, the small animals from the third caterpillar stage wear hairs that can cause skin irritation and allergies in humans. But now the caterpillars are a stage further and have pupated.

“The oak processionary dolls no longer have poison hair. That’s good! Unfortunately, hair residues always stick to the nest, which is why the nests should be kept at a distance, ”explains mags forester Werner Stops.

The best way to do it is permanently, because: "The stinging hair can still have the same health-damaging effect after years," writes the City of Dortmund's health department in a leaflet.

Many caterpillar nests were vacuumed

Caterpillar nests have been vacuumed in many cities in Germany in recent weeks.

According to a message from the city of Dortmund, each sucked-off caterpillar saves around 300 eggs from a hatched folder.

"Vacuuming the nests and caterpillars is not only the elimination of a possible danger, but also a precaution for the EPS season next year," said the experts.

How to protect yourself

The Dortmund health office has some tips in the leaflet to help protect themselves:

  • Pay attention to the signs "Warning of the oak processionary spinner" and avoid these areas.
  • Never touch caterpillars and nests.
  • Even below the infested trees, stinging hair lying on the ground can cause health problems for years to come.
  • Avoid logging and maintenance measures as long as caterpillar nests are recognizable.
  • Control should only be carried out by specialist personnel who wear a full protective suit and have the appropriate technology (pest control).
  • Note wind conditions.
  • Anyone who comes into contact with the hairs should go to the doctor and tell him that there has probably been contact with the hair of the EPS.
  • Antihistamines can help with severe itching, scratching only drives the poisonous hair deeper into the skin.
  • In the event of severe allergic reactions with asthma and shortness of breath, call the emergency services immediately.
  • Do not carry stinging hair into the apartment over clothes, shoes, strollers etc.
  • Change contaminated clothing quickly and wash at least 60 ° C.
  • Shower and wash hair. Cold water relieves itching!
  • Rinse eyes with plenty of water. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Mönchengladbacher waste, green and street companies AöR (mags): caterpillars of the oak processionary moth pupate (retrieval: 04.08.2019), mags
  • Health Department of the City of Dortmund: Leaflet Oak Processional Spinner (EPS), (accessed: 04.08.2019), Health Department of the City of Dortmund
  • City of Dortmund: Civil engineering office in action against oak procession spinners, (accessed: 04.08.2019), City of Dortmund

Video: Moths Swarming Your Oak Tree? (August 2022).