OPM Oak Processionary Moth Removal In Surrey

Oak Processionary Moth Removal In Surrey, Hampshire & The South East

Guildford Tree Surgeons provide safe, quick and cost-effective OPM Oak Processionary Moth removal in Surrey and the South East.

Due to OPM’s hazardous nature, we take every precaution to safeguard our workforce, the public, and surrounding wildlife.

We use specialist OPM removal equipment and follow the strict removal and disposal guidelines set out by the UK government and Forestry Commission.

Removing OPM nests is most effective between late June and early August when the caterpillars are pupating in the nest.

Our OPM Nest removal process doesn’t require pesticides, so it has minimal impact on the environment and other species.

If you think your tree or trees may have OPM, stay clear of the area and contact us immediately.

Do not attempt to remove or dispose of OPM nests without suitable training and specialist PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Oak Processionary Moth Removal Surrey By Guildford Tree Surgeons

We can assess your trees through photos, descriptions or an in-person site visit to quickly confirm whether OPM is present.

We’ll then offer fully insured, safe and affordable solutions to remove OPM from your trees, allowing you to reclaim your outdoor space.

Guildford Tree Surgeons holds £10 million in public and employer liability insurance and is a member of the CHAS and SafeContractor programs.

We’re also ISO9001 and ISO14001 accredited.

Contact us for domestic and commercial OPM removal in Surrey and the South East.

What is OPM?

OPM (Oak Processionary Moth) caterpillars infest oak trees, eating the leaves and weakening them, making them vulnerable to other threats.

They feed and live almost exclusively on oak trees and move around the tree in a nose-to-tail procession, which is where they get their name.

 OPM nests and caterpillars pose a significant hazard to the health of humans and animals.

Tiny hairs on the caterpillars and their nests contain a toxin (Thaumetopoein) that can cause extreme irritation and breathing problems.

OPM was first identified in London in 2006 and has since spread to neighbouring regions such as Surrey and other counties across the South East.

For the latest data on the spread of OPM, you can view the Forestry Commission’s up-to-date Oak Processionary Moth monitoring map.

How to identify OPM (Oak Processionary Moth) caterpillars and nests

OPM Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillars In Surrey

OPM Caterpillars have the following distinguishing features:

  • They infest and feed almost exclusively on oak trees.
  • They will usually only feed on other broad-leaved tree species if there aren’t enough oak leaves available.
  • They have been known to feed on sweet chestnut, beech, birch, hazel and hornbeam.
  • They have yet to be known to complete their development cycle on tree species other than oaks.
  • You may see them marching in procession along the ground between oak trees.
  • They are often sighted moving around in late spring and early summer, forming nose-to-tail processions, from which they derive their name.
  • The procession formation consists of an arrowhead, with one leader and successive rows of several caterpillars marching abreast.
  • They bunch together while feeding on oak leaves and moving locations.
  • They have very long, white hairs, contrasting with the much shorter, almost invisible, toxic hairs.
  • They have a dark head and grey body. Older larvae have a central dark stripe with lighter lines down both sides.
  • You’ll rarely find them on walls, fences or similar structures, such as outdoor furniture; these are likely to be other caterpillars similar in appearance.
  • You’ll only see them in May, June and July (mid-to-late spring and early summer).

Oak Processionary Moth Nest In Surrey

OPM nests are relatively easy to identify and have the following characteristics:

  • OPM nests are built in early summer and formed on the trunks and branches of oak trees.
  • They’re rarely built among the leaves of oak trees, on any other tree species, or walls, fences, or similar structures. Other harmless species usually form such nests.
  • The nests are made of distinctive, silk-white webbing and have silken-white rails on the trunks and branches of oak trees.
  • Over time, the nests and silken trails become discoloured and more challenging to see against the tree.
  • Nests come in various shapes; some are shaped like teardrops or half balls, and some resemble hammocks or blankets wrapped around part of the trunk or branches.
  • The OPM nest size can range from a few centimetres wide to several feet across.
  • You can find OPM nests anywhere on the tree, from ground level to high in the crown.
  • More than one nest can form on the same tree or branch.
  • OPM nests may remain affixed to trees for several months after the larvae have pupated and the adult moths have emerged.
  • Nests can fall out of trees, and you may find them on the ground.

Dangers of OPM to trees

OPM caterpillars consume the leaves of various oak tree species, restricting their ability to photosynthesise. Large groups can defoliate entire trees, making them more susceptible to other pests, diseases, and stresses like drought. Weakened, infested, or diseased trees may become structurally unstable, posing a risk to their surroundings.

Dangers of OPM to humans and animals

OPM Caterpillars grow tiny toxic hairs that contain an irritating protein called “Thaumetopoein”. Contact with these toxic hairs can cause itchy skin rashes, eye irritations, sore throats, and respiratory problems in humans and animals. The respiratory issues caused by the hairs are a more significant concern for the vulnerable and those with underlying health conditions.

OPM Caterpillars shed these toxic hairs when disturbed or threatened. Once shed, the wind can carry the hairs, and they may get stuck to anything they encounter. The hairs also accumulate within the nests and can be spread if disturbed. OPM nest may fall from trees without warning, resulting in the dispersal of hairs upon impact with the ground.

The most vulnerable groups to the dangers of OPM caterpillars and nests include:

  • Humans who are working on or near infested trees.
  • Curious children, pets, livestock and wild animals.
  • Grazing livestock and wild animals.

OPM is a genuine threat, so it must be reported and dealt with to help prevent the spread and avoid complications.

The Forestry Commission’s mantra is ‘Spot it, avoid it, report it.’ You can report OPM sightings by using TreeAlert.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding OPM caterpillar or OPM nest removal, contact Guildford Tree Surgeons today.

Further OPM (Oak Processionary Moth) Information Provided By The Forestry Commission



Two large trees removed in garden.

“This is the first time I’ve ever looked for tree surgeons in Guildford as it’s the first house I’ve owned, but I bought it with two large beech trees that needed removing pretty much immediately. I got my quote on Monday and the job was completed by the end of the following week. My garden is actually cleaner now than before they started which was a big plus!! Highly recommend, very friendly, polite and punctual team.”

Customer in Farnham

Tree removal in back garden.

“Did job exactly as he said he would and was recommended by somebody in the local area who did gardening work for relatives, so I recommend. They cover all the Guildford and Woking area and surrounds, advance booking advised as they are busy.”

Customer in Woking

Conifer tree removed.

“Guildford tree surgeons came and did an amazing job felling and stump grinding a large conifer tree my back garden. The tree was over hanging a fence but they got it down with absolutely no damage. Their price was competitive and I’m very pleased with the result.”

Customer in Aldershot

Two dead silver birches removed.

“The Guildford Tree Surgeons team were extremely pleasant to deal with. One of the dead trees had become quite dangerous to climb and had to be felled in a longer piece than the other. But it was brought down carefully with no real damage to our garden which I was very pleased about. I would use this firm again.”

Customer in Woking

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