Killer caterpillars have been spotted in The Queen’s back garden at Windsor Castle sparking fear in the royal residence.
The two-inch-long, black-headed creepy crawlers can trigger fatal asthmas attacks and fever if approached.
Touching the larvae of the Oak Processionary Moths can also cause anaphylaxis and severe rashes.
The caterpillars each have 63,000 white toxic hairs on their bodies which they use in self-defence.
They have been spotted in Windsor Great Park just metres from the royal residence in the Berkshire town.
Bosses of the park – some of which is open to the public – have put out warnings about the dangers.
The hairy wrigglers – which hatch from tennis ball-sized nests – are a risk to humans and animals and have been linked to deaths in southern Europe where they originate.
They can also damage trees, feeding on oak leaves and the royal park has some ancient oaks that are up to 1,000 years old.
Local Viv Ayre said: “Do not let your dog anywhere near these caterpillars. A few years ago my little Shih Tzu almost lost her life because of these.
“As it was, she ended up losing half of her tongue and they made her lose most of her sight. On rushing her to the vets, my neck and chest came out in a horrendous rash and didn’t stop itching for days.”
Sufferer Helen Long said: “I've been a victim of the rash myself.
“Hairs can be carried on the wind too so if you feel like you've been brushed by loft insulation make sure to take antihistamines.”
A Windsor Great Park spokesman said: “Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars are now present in areas of Windsor Great Park.
“The hairs on these caterpillars can cause irritation and rashes on both humans and animals.
“Please avoid contact with any caterpillars that you may see.
“The Estate is actively managing the situation."
An influx of the caterpillars to the UK was reported in April due to early spring weather .
In 2006 there the moths were found at Kew Gardens, south west London.
The Forestry Commission also warned people not to touch them and seek medical advice if they do.
Dr Deborah Turbitt, London Deputy Director for Health Protection for Public Health England, said: “We strongly advise people not to touch or approach the caterpillars or their nests because of the health risks posed by the hairs.”
Dr. Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and a practicing GP, told Mirror Online: "These toxic caterpillars could be dangerous for people with asthma.
"The small hairs on the brown-tail moth caterpillar are toxic and can trigger allergic reactions in some people if touched. These allergic reactions can cause asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and a tight chest and may lead to a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
"We would advise people in the UK with asthma to avoid touching this type of caterpillar to reduce their risk of having an asthma attack.
"Everyone with asthma should also continue to take their preventer inhaler as prescribed and make sure they carry their reliever inhaler with them at all times in case they get symptoms.
'For more information on how to stay well with asthma, visit www.asthma.org.uk/manage.”
Source: Read Full Article