Complaints caused by the oak processionary caterpillar
If the caterpillar’s hairs come into contact with the skin, eyes or lungs, they can penetrate the surface, resulting in complaints such as:
- (severe) itching, bumps, blisters, redness of the skin
- redness and swelling of the eyes.
Sometimes the symptoms can resemble a cold:
- runny nose
- itchy throat
- difficulty swallowing
- shortness of breath
Other complaints may include:
- general feeling of disease
Symptoms vary per person. Regular contact with stinging hairs can increase the severity of the symptoms. Animals, particularly dogs and horses, can also be affected.
How to prevent complaints
Are you planning to visit a (nature) area where there are oak processionary caterpillars? The following advice helps to prevent complaints:
- Ensure your neck, arms and legs are covered.
- Avoid direct contact with caterpillars, (old) stinging hairs, silk nests and skins.
- Instruct children to avoid contact with the caterpillar.
- Avoid roads with oak trees that house processionary caterpillars. Trees with old nests can also be dangerous, as the remaining stinging hairs can still blow away.
- You can remove stinging hairs from clothing by washing them thoroughly, preferably at 60ºC.
- If there are oak trees in your garden with oak processionary caterpillars, do not deal with the caterpillars yourself. Hire a professional company or ask your municipality for advice.