During the months of May to August tree surgeons around London, particularly in the South West of London, are increasingly having to deal with Oak Processionary Moth or OPM. OPM is an invasive species of moth that when in the caterpillar stage has toxic hairs that can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems. If the caterpillars get to plague proportions they can defoliate a whole tree. They are predominantly found in oak trees but can also be found in other species of tree.
Our tree surgeons at The Tree Company (London) Ltd are working with the Royal Parks and other clients to control the spread of OPM in local London areas. We do this in a number of ways. As the caterpillars grow they can be sprayed with an insecticide. Once the caterpillars start to pupate they form silk nests in trees which have to be manually removed by climbing trees with a rope and harness and/or using a cherry picker (MEWP) to access the nests. The Tree Company's tree surgeons have to wear full personal protective equipment to protect them from contact with the toxic hairs. As you can imagine, in weather like we have had recently it can be a bit of an uncomfortable job!
OPM has been in the country for a few years now and spreads quickly, we at The Tree Company are working hard with our clients to try and control its spread. With hard work and dedicated workers we may have a chance.
A client set up a time lapse of our operatives, Rob and Barry, dismantling this large Leylandii over the course of 2 days. In London space is a premium and Leylandii are a fast growing large tree. In an ideal world Leylandii trees would only be grown in wide open spaces or regularly maintained (trimmed at least once a year) as a screening hedge.
This tree was allowed to grow and was overbearing in the small London garden. Due to the tight space the tree had to be dismantled carefully in small pieces to avoid damage to the fence and surrounding structures.