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Posted - 10th November 23

Managing the Threat of Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) in Aldershot: Innovative Approaches and Environmental Conservation

The Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) is a species of moth whose caterpillars nest and feed on oak trees. These caterpillars release tiny hairs as a defence mechanism, which can cause itchy rashes, eye, and throat irritations, and even breathing difficulties in humans and animals. Ongoing efforts have been made to control the spread of OPM in the UK, but its expansion continues at a rate of 6km per year, possibly influenced by climate change.

Managing OPM

The ADSL Environmental Team has been conducting surveys of all oak trees within the estate for the past two years, searching for caterpillars and nests. By using moth pheromone traps, they were able to successfully locate infestations but were yet to confirm any sightings of OPM until a few months ago.

While installing OPM pheromone traps across the garrisons, ADSL Tree Manager, Graham Sear identified an OPM nest near the Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre.

Aldershot Garrison is surrounded by boroughs where OPM has been identified. Given that oak trees are prevalent within the Garrison, this first sighting doesn’t come as a surprise.

A Red Alert Report was issued to Forest Research and the team immediately went to work engaging qualified contractors who used a combination of physical nest removal and insecticide spraying techniques to manage the infestation.

Three OPM nests found on two trees have now been successfully removed, however, this outbreak – the first recorded in Aldershot – is worrying because of the threat to biodiversity in the region.

The team will continue to monitor installed pheromone traps to pinpoint any hot spots for further infestations, while further treatment of the identified infected trees will continue next spring.

Innovative Control Methods

Research has shown that installing bird boxes for small birds, such as blue tits, can increase the population of natural predators that feed on OPM caterpillars. This approach has proven effective in reducing OPM numbers in infected areas. Building on this knowledge, the ADSL team has installed 30 small bird boxes made from 100% recycled plastic and FSC certified wood at various sites in Aldershot. This initiative aims not only to combat OPM but also to support and enhance the natural biodiversity of the area. The success of the bird boxes will be monitored, and if proven effective, more boxes will be added over time.

Birdbox installed on Oak tree at Aldershot Garrison

Reporting OPM Sightings

A proactive communication campaign has been implemented at Aldershot Garrison to create awareness and provide information on what to do if OPM is spotted anywhere on the Garrison. Sightings are reported to the Aspire Helpdesk so that the ADSL Environmental Team can take appropriate action. Guidelines are also in place to remind individuals to avoid contact with OPM.


By actively monitoring and implementing innovative approaches like installing bird boxes, ADSL is taking proactive steps to address the threat of OPM to the numerous oak trees on Aldershot Garrison. These efforts not only aid in managing OPM but also contribute to the preservation of the local environment and its biodiversity.

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