Oak Processionary Moth
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has confirmed the interception of the pest Oak Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) commonly called OPM for short, which has been found in a public park in Dublin in July 2020.
The single OPM nest found on one imported, recently planted amenity tree has been removed and destroyed, and the wider intensified DAFM survey has not yielded additional findings to date. This is the first finding of this pest on the island of Ireland.
Ireland is recognised as a Protected Zone under EU legislation for this pest based on years of official survey data. Ireland is the last EU Member State to be free from OPM. A Protected Zone is an area of the EU which is free from a quarantine organism despite favourable conditions for them to establish themselves.
Oak trees are the main host for this pest, and it is unlikely to be found on any tree other than oak. OPM defoliates and weakens oak trees and importantly can be a hazard to human and animal health through direct contact with the hairs of the caterpillars, which can provoke allergic reactions.
Health problems can occur even if the larvae are not handled as the hairs break off readily and are dispersed in air currents. Abandoned nests contain shed skins, pupal cases and vast numbers of detached hairs and should be treated with extreme caution.