How to Keep Your Garden Free of Oak Processionary Moth


Keeping your garden free of the destructive, tree-killing oak processionary moth doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In fact, if you take the right precautions and follow sensible advice from us at David Fairley Gardens, you should have no trouble keeping these pesky little creatures at bay. If you own an oak tree and live in a place where this pest has been found, it is imperative that you do everything in your power to keep it from decimating your trees. Oak processionary moth larvae are about the size of grains of sand and their small size makes them difficult to spot. They defoliate (remove the leaves) from branches that are within their reach, so if you notice clusters of sickly leaves on one branch, there’s a good chance that they were chewed off by a processionary moth larva. This article will provide you with all the information you need to protect your oaks from these destructive pests as well as some helpful tips on how to get rid of them safely if they make themselves known in your garden.

Why Protect Your Oak Trees?

Oak trees are one of the most beautiful and important trees in the world. They are relatively easy to cultivate and are grown commercially in many parts of the world. They are also incredibly useful, with their bark, leaves, sap and wood all found in many functions across many sectors. Two species of oak are prominent in many people’s gardens: the English oak (Quercus robur) and the Italian oak (Quercus ilex). They are both rich in history and have been the subject of many famous works of art. The English oak is the national tree of Britain, while the Italian oak is the provincial tree of both Tuscany and Sardinia. Each of these species can be found in many parts of the world and grow to become giant trees with trunks that can be up to 6 meters in diameter. The bark of an oak can be anywhere from brown to grey in colour and is fairly easy to identify when compared to other trees. Most oak trees can be found in woodlands, especially in temperate climates. Oak trees thrive in wet, swampy environments and can be found in many coastal areas.

How to Identify an Oak Processionary Moth

Oak processionary moth larvae are bright green in colour, with a yellow-white coloured body and black head. This insect also sports long, black hairs that can cause allergic reactions in humans if they come into contact with them. These long hairs, which are actually the larvae’s silk-like excretions, can also be ingested by humans and cause gastrointestinal issues. Female moths, who are black in colour, lay their eggs on oak leaves near the end of the autumn season. These eggs are attached to a sticky substance and are easy to spot on the leaves of an oak tree. The larva that emerges from these eggs will begin to feed on the leaves of the oak tree, and as it grows, it also grows out of its skin and malts. This malting process happens five times throughout the larva’s lifecycle, with the last malting taking place in the spring. The full lifecycle of an oak processionary moth larva takes about one year to complete.

What Does a Healthy Oak Look Like?

As previously mentioned, an oak tree that is free from pests and diseases will have intact, seasonal leaves. These leaves will be easy to remove, but shouldn’t come off with a light tug of the branch. Brown leaves are a very normal occurrence in healthy, mature oak trees, especially during the Autumn season when they naturally shed their leaves. If you see clusters of pale, sickly-looking leaves on your oak branches or the leaves are clinging to the branch by a few strands of thread-like fiber, your tree may have been attacked by an infestation of oak processionary moths.

What Are the Signs of Infestation?

Unfortunately, if you suspect that your oak tree has been infected by oak processionary moths, there isn’t a sure-fire way to identify an infestation. It’s easier to spot an infestation if the tree is young, but even mature trees can be infected. If you see clusters of pale, sickly-looking leaves on your oak branches, or the leaves are clinging to the branch by a few strands of thread-like fiber, your tree may have been attacked by an infestation of oak processionary moths. Another way that you can identify an oak tree infestation is by looking for holes in the bark of the tree. These holes are caused by larvae that are attempting to feed on the tree’s inner bark. The most serious signs of an oak processionary moth infestation are branch dieback and the sudden death of the entire tree. If you spot these signs, you should contact your local authorities immediately.

Tips for Keeping Moths Out of Your Garden – Or Out of Your Favourite Tree!

The best you can do is to keep an eye out for symptoms of an infestation, and if you spot them, follow the steps outlined below for getting rid of moths safely and humanely. Suppressing the growth of weeds and wild grasses in your garden can help to keep moths from settling in your yard. Moth larvae feed on a number of different plants, so keeping them in check will help to keep the pests from flourishing. Controlling the temperature inside your home can also help to keep moths from making your garden their home. Keeping your thermostat at a reasonable temperature and avoiding the use of strong scented candles and sprays can help to keep moths away.

 Steps to Get Rid of Moths Safely and Humanely

If you do notice signs of an oak processionary moth infestation in your garden, there are a few things that you can do to get rid of them safely and humanely.

– First, remove any leaves that have been chewed by the moths. This can help to curb the spread of the infestation.

– Spray the leaves of your oak trees with a mixture of water and vinegar. This can help to disrupt the breeding cycle of the moths.

– Finally, if the infestation is particularly bad and you can’t seem to get rid of it on your own, you can contact your local authorities and request assistance.


Oak processionary moths are an invasive species that can be extremely destructive and even deadly to oak trees. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to identify an infestation and deal with it before it can do too much damage with the help of our horticultural experts. All you need to do is keep an eye out for signs of an infestation, and if you notice them, follow these steps to get rid of the moths before they have a chance to do serious damage to your trees. With a little diligence and diligence, you can protect your oaks from the destructive effect of the oak processionary moth and keep your yard looking beautiful and healthy. With oaks being such a common tree, it’s important that we do everything in our power to keep them healthy and happy.

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