Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) presents a significant threat both to public health and to the long term health of native oaks in the UK. Initially largely contained in the boroughs of west London, the current UK outbreak is now spreading beyond the 10 km buffer zone that was put in place to contain it. Since it was first identified in 2006, management has proved difficult. Identification of the pest in its various stages of development is complex and while chemical treatments are available, these are expensive and may have unintended effects on other invertebrates. Biological controls are still at an early stage of development. This research is being undertaken at a critical stage in the development of the outbreak.
The Government’s plant health authorities recognize that eradication is not possible and are now pursuing strategies to contain OPM and minimize its human health consequences. This is appropriate moment to understand what attempts to eradicate this significant pest failed but also to look forward to scope future management options. The project begins with a retrospective analysis of the eradication campaign in London, integrating a review of the documentary evidence with a series of interviews with people centrally involved. It will then look forward to identify options for future management, exploring some of the likely consequences of, for instance, extending the buffer zone and implementing more aggressive chemical treatments. Experience with OPM elsewhere in the EU will be drawn on to scope other management alternatives.