Schools vacated due to the oak processionary moth

They look fluffy, but their urticating hairs can be dangerous: caterpillars of the oak processionary moth have caused to two schools in Bretten, near Karlsruhe, a visit from the police after several children complained of shortness of breath and redness of the skin. Four students are to be temporarily unconscious, probably because they were before the excitement of the Hyper valve. Also helicopters are in use, reports the “Bretten news”.

Oak processionary moth spreading for years, in the whole of Germany and can be used for tree and man is dangerous. Because the caterpillars not only eat all the trees bare, their tiny hairs contain Thaumetopoein – a persistent toxin, which is based on protein. Similar to nettles people react to the hairs of the toxic, the poison of the caterpillars, however, acts much stronger. Victims suffer mostly under a itchy, burning rash, or painful cough if you inhale the burning hair.

Two inserts within a few days

In the extreme case, a contact can trigger an allergic shock. So a violent reaction is, however, very rare. Each caterpillar has hundreds of burning hair, they break easily, and can spread up to several hundred meters through the air. In addition, the toxin persists for years. The oak processionary moth to be fought, therefore, nationwide.

About 40 students were injured in Bretten by the caterpillars, 700 students had to leave the building. On Friday, the schools had to be vacated because of the caterpillars. Some parts of the schoolyard were locked.

The teaching at both schools for the time being. How long is unclear. Before the schools can reopen, must be removed from the nests of the oak processionary moth in a professional manner. Probably the urticating hairs of the caterpillars have been carried by Wind into the building. People should wash their clothes. On the school site itself, only two of the caterpillars have been spotted, but no nests.

The caterpillars are active at night walk to and fro close to each other, similarly as in the case of a procession, hence the Name. From the fifth larval stage, they live together in large nests, the so-called Dreams. In this time, they also form the dangerous hairs.

How many oak processionary moth in Germany, is unclear. Plant protection is the responsibility of the States, and a reporting requirement, there is not. Until 2012, the Julius-Kühn-Institute effort brought together all the known cases from the individual forest offices. In the meantime, the researchers assume, however, that the oak processionary moth occurs in all of Germany.