Attention: even moths are spiders

Fear and fright are spread in these days in some burgers by thick spider nests that appear in gardens and in nature. According to the agricultural office in furth, which is responsible for the district of erlangen-hochstadt, many people think that these accumulations of caterpillars in the moth are the dangerous oak processionary moth. But the forestry office gives the all-clear.

"If the moth nests hang on shrubs or fruit trees, the oak processionary moth is wrongly suspected, since it occurs exclusively on coarser oaks", informs the agricultural office.

Nests on bushes, shrubs or small trees can often be attributed to the so-called spider moths. They are specialists for different food plants, but also peacock cap or the weeping cherry. This moth spins itself a dwelling and protects the small caterpillars from enemies and the effects of the weather. According to the information from the forestry office, the moths can even encase entire shrubs in their nests, which is particularly striking.

Harmless to humans

The experts from the office assure us that the spider moth caterpillars are completely harmless to humans and animals. Even trees and shrubs that have been eaten bare by moths do not normally die but sprout again.

In contrast, the nests of the oak processionary moth are far more dangerous. The caterpillars’ hairs can cause itching and painful rashes when they come into contact with human skin. Their poisonous effect is still felt when they are blown away by the wind and contaminate sports fields, the lawns of open-air swimming pools and, of course, private property.

The town of hochstadt has already had some very negative experiences with the oak processionary moth in the past. In 2007, for example, 28 oak trees were infested in the hochstadt open-air swimming pool. The nests of these caterpillars, some of which were the size of fubballs, were torched with a flame thrower back then.

In order to ensure the protection of bathers, the city of hochstadt has in the past also used coarser protection measures and fought the oak processionary moth in the wider area of the open-air swimming pool from a helicopter using chemical agents. The oaks are sprayed, the caterpillars eat the leaves and ingest the deadly substance. "Since then, we have the problem under control", says mayor gerald brehm (JL).

In the outdoor pool, the oak processionary moth is no longer an issue, notes the city’s horticulturalist hermann zehn. Prophylactically, however, a biological agent was used here again this year.

The oak processionary moth is naturally not eradicated in the urban area of hochstadt. Ten has also in these days found infestations where oaks are exposed and they are exposed to the sun and heat radiation. "It is, however, profitable and no reason for hysteria", says the expert. If the infestation becomes too severe, the mayor announces that action will be taken.

Anyone who discovers coarse nests or caterpillar accumulations on oak trees that are located on heavily frequented paths or bursts can contact their local municipality, the district office or the agricultural office.